Celebration CakeHonestly, I don’t really bake many ‘special’ cakes. The kind with multiple layers temptingly blanketed by sweet, creamy frosting and loaded with enough sugar and calories to make you forget life’s troubles in an instant. No, I hardly bake that kind of cake. It may have something to do with the fact that those kind of cakes require a little more effort, and that baking them ‘just because’ seems a little, well… frivolous. Hans, my husband, gets a double-layer chocolate cake on his birthday, and I’m happy to bake one as a present for a friend, but that’s pretty much it.
I guess you could say that I’m the kind of person who likes to save the good stuff for ‘special occasions’. The Limoges plates and my mother-in-law’s fine linen tablecloth for Christmas dinner, the antique German soup tureen and French silverware for entertaining, the classy jewellery and fancy shoes for business meetings. It is my attempt to keep these treasured items pristine and beautiful. I am also trying to convince myself that I am getting the most out of them this way. If I don’t have something often, I’ll enjoy it more when I do, which is true, to an extent.

I more or less apply the same idea to baking pretty cakes. Fine for celebrations, but rather extravagant without reason. While I am aware that baking fancy cakes too often has its risks (my thighs!), I do think it’s time for me to reconsider what I classify as a ‘special occasion’, and why one moment calls for a celebration more than the other.
Life is full of special moments. Sharing a glass of wine with my husband at the end of the day while I cook dinner. Waving good-bye and shouting “I love you” to my daughter Kirstie when she leaves for school in the morning. Having my dog suddenly jump on me with kisses and wags of the tail. Opening a box of old photographs and remembering how rich our lives have been. These are moments of joy that are also worthy of a celebration. Perhaps it’s time to start using the elegant silverware and baking more celebration cakes. Every occasion can be a special occasion when we celebrate it with something beautiful.

Celebration Cake
Serves 8

For the cake:

  • 250g soft butter
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • zest of 1 organic lemon
  • 2 tbsps lemon juice

For the frosting:

  • 70g butter
  • 150g white chocolate
  • 140g crème fraîche
  • 200g powdered sugar
  • zest of 1 organic lemon

Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter and flour two 22cm springform pans and line the bottoms with baking paper. Cream the butter and the sugar until light and pale. Add in the eggs one by one, with 1 tsp of the flour, while beating. Fold in the rest of the flour. Add the zest and lemon juice and stir to combine. Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans and bake for about 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely before unmolding and frosting.

For the frosting:
Slowly melt the butter and the chocolate au bain marie. Allow to cool slightly before whisking in the crème fraîche. Follow with the sugar and the lemon zest and whisk again.

To assemble the cake, cut out four strips of baking paper and place them around the edges of your cake plate or cake stand. Place the first layer of the cake on top of the strips of paper. Spread 1/3 of the frosting on top of this first layer and sandwich with the second layer. Divide the rest of the frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Leave the cake in the refrigerator over night so that the flavors come together. This also makes it easier to cut the cake in neat, pretty slices. Enjoy and celebrate life!


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