Pretend Birthday Cake – and Frosting

I don’t seem to post much about food lately. That doesn’t mean I’m not trying new recipes — of course I am, and some, such as the Oven Roasted Broccoli, are even very good, eaten up by my family with far more interest than broccoli usually is in this house. The Cheese Stuffed Breadsticks were also surprisingly good for not too much work, although they needed a brushing of salty garlic butter in the middle, I thought. But usually, even if I like the recipe, I just add a link to my sidebar and move on with my life.

But today was different. Today I had a frosting revelation.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a somewhat ambivalent attitude toward cake. And over the years I’ve gradually begun to define more specifically my issues with it, helped largely by the fact that my brother makes truly awesome cakes. I think the trouble was that I’d eaten too many store-bought cakes in my life, and come to the conclusion that those somehow defined cake. Point number one: cakes should be moist, fluffy things (we’re talking about standard cakes here, not flourless ones, which I consider an entirely separate category) with good enough flavor that they’re worth eating without frosting. Pete makes those; and now, occasionally, I have made them too. I made one just today from a recipe online that I thought was actually quite worthwhile, considering that it wasn’t chocolate, although next time I might add some orange zest.

But point number two has been the sticky one: frosting. There is simply, in my clearly not humble opinion, not much one can do with buttercream. It is what it is, and what it is to me (I’m sure there are those who disagree, and I forgive you) is greasy in the mouth and almost always too sweet. Other frostings have done better for me, but they usually aren’t quite what I’m looking for — since we can’t use cream, whipped cream versions are out, as is cream cheese, and the various cooked icings I’ve tried are ok but not stunning. The closest thing I’ve found to true frosting love has been some kind of ganache (made with coconut milk), and they’re usually not sweet enough for the kids and a bit heavy to boot.

So today, when Ryan asked for a cake for a pretend birthday party, and specified that he wanted a “normal” cake (the last chocolate one I made was not very sweet and I think he remembers), I knew I needed something different. Not knowing where to start, I just googled “not buttercream frosting.” And this is what I got.

It’s good. Yes, there’s butter and sugar, but there’s also a roux made from flour and milk. Does it sound dubious? It did to me too, but I took a chance and am oh so glad. Tonight, by only making a third of the cake recipe and a quarter of the frosting, I came up with a dessert that our family and two neighbor kids could finish in a night, and I actually really enjoyed my piece. (I would have enjoyed it even more had I not allowed all four kids to decorate the cake first with sprinkles. What, did I think they would gently shake them on? Why shake when you can pour?)

I think I am slowly, very slowly, being converted to liking cake.

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Posted in Food. 1 Comment »

One Response to “Pretend Birthday Cake – and Frosting”

  1. Mom’s Art Night Out | Ilex Quilts Says:

    […] the kids to use, which had pretty much decimated that collection. (I was not upset. I had already learned about how kids treat sprinkles, but I think it’s one of those things you just have to […]


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