I took a little time off in August. Because of my mother's poor health I gave up on the idea of a summer vacation and decided to stay put here in Brooklyn. At one point in early August my brain stopped working and I struggled to get anything done. Guilt and worry set in, that good old Protestant work ethic, until I realized that even if I wasn't going away I still needed a break. I saw a few clients, hosted a private party and filled orders but other than that I've tried to let go and have a staycation. It hasn't exactly been fun. I filled my days taking care of things I've been putting off, namely big cleaning jobs and doctor's appointments.
The end of the month, tho, is birthday time. I have a very good friend who's birthday is the day before mine (we were born mere hours apart) and we've never had the chance to celebrate together. Hers was this past Friday, mine on Saturday. The plan was to bake a cake on her birthday and make dinner for friends and serve the birthday cake on mine.
After a lovely lunch at a local trattoria on Friday we went to the market (our local food coop) and bought supplies. We decided on Vanilla Malt Cake. The recipe we were using called for malt powder but when we looked at the ingredients label filled with preservatives and additives we decided for the simpler barley malt syrup. This meant doing a little tweaking with the recipe, making sure we had the correct proportions of wet and dry ingredients.
I must confess that the batter was incredibly delicious and couldn't keep my fingers out of it. Cleaning the bowl was sublime. The cake itself was a little heavy. We looked at recipes for honey cake and most of them were made of multiple layers. I think that would work well for this cake as well. The barley malt made it quite dense. It was wonderful and everyone had seconds (so I know it was good!). Still, I'd like to tweak the recipe and try again with more layers, less barley malt, more vanilla and maybe more baking powder. Cake is a science and experiments are necessary.
We whipped up a special blush colored buttercream and I had a wonderful time playing floral designer and decorating it with flowers. It got quite a lot of oh's and ah's when it was served. Final recipe forthcoming.