Let Them Eat Cake
I have written a lot about my mothers killer fashion sense this past year, and at times spoken about her cooking, but I don't believe that I have ever showcased her talents as an incredible pastry chef. Being a good cook is a skill, being a pastry chef is an art. As you can see from the cakes above, she was a true artist. She would think nothing of hand crafting several hundred sugar paste petals and leaves for a wedding cake, and could mold marzipan into every imaginable shape and likeness. To master pastry, you also need patience and I believe, a sense for it. It used to drive me crazy when I would ask her for exact timing on certain recipes, like her caramel for instance, to which she would respond "Oh honey, just take it off the heat when it looks right"
I have always loved to cook, but was terrified about making deserts, and for most of my life, I didn't have to, my mom did it. Over the years, I have collected every recipe she shared with me, and after she was diagnosed with cancer, she took on the daunting task of compiling her own favorite recipes for me. I have three hand written recipes for her pie crust, and each one is slightly different! Oh mom. But as time has gone on, I have learned to put that crust together, and how to make caramel, and whipped cream, and buttercream icing....and I have become more brave, and begun to tackle the cannon of desserts. I am not at the Croquembouche level yet, but I still have time. For those unfamiliar with Croquembouche, here is a recipe: (and yes, my mom made a killer one)
This past weekend was the big fall fundraiser for my daughter's school. At the event they have something called a "cake walk" basically like a big game of musical chairs, where if you land on the number picked at random, you can win a cake. I have enjoyed baking some fun Halloween themed cakes for this. I have two pictures below, one I made while my mom was alive, and one I made for this year. My mom LOVED seeing pictures of the cakes I made, and always loved talking food with me. She only got to see one of these, but I think she would have been proud about this years effort. They seem sort of amateurish compared to what my mom could do, but they are fun, and were made with love. Here is to sweet memories of sweet things.