The Icing On The Cake

I made this cool little cake the other night, with its amateurish gold daubings and hand-painted chocolate salal leaves, and sure, I’ll tell you how you can make one too. But the real icing, the real cake, is not this. It’s the fact that after traversing a very hard year, we’re finally getting to go back to France for a few months!

As you might recall, almost exactly a year ago I posted this last love letter to France. On that sad day we left Uzès, which had come to feel like home to both of us, because there were no further treatments for Shel’s cancer to be had in France, and we just couldn’t give up trying to save his life. And so we returned to the States, and spent a year chasing a cure. We got nearer and farther, sailed up, crashed down, ran the gamut that is everyday life with cancer. Had radiation, met with Hospice, drank bitter Chinese medicine, tried a new drug, and lo and behold, one year later, we’re both still here.

We won’t always both be able to stay on this earth, because of course we can’t have our cake and eat it too. But we’re both here now, still together, and in a mood to celebrate that fact. After the year we’ve had, we think we deserve a good dose of la vie française, and we’re going to go get it. In less than two weeks we’ll be heading back to our old home, to our same house and garden, our dear friends, our French classes, our next door neighbors, all that sweet life that we’ve been missing. But before we go back to having a bakery right next door and never baking at home, let me tell you how to bake a mighty fine cake.

First you make some homemade ice cream, or some other project that will leave you with six stray egg whites. Then you bake this recipe for Pille’s Estonian egg white cake. She calls for a Bundt pan, but I used a heart, you can choose. When I pulled the cake warm from the oven and flipped it over to its tender side, I slathered it with guava jelly and let that melt in a bit.  Then I took a 9 oz box of Organic Sicilian Marzipan and rolled it out so that I could cut out a heart shape just the size of the cake, which I laid gently atop the jelly. I set the cake on a rack and poured a ganache made with Sharffenberger semisweet chocolate over it all. As it set up I painted the backs of some salal leaves with melted Valrhona, and popped them into the fridge to set. When all was ready, I topped the cake with the leaves and dabbed and painted some gold trim, made with gold lustre dust mixed with a little lemon extract.

And there you have the cake, and the icing, and the happiness and the sorrow and the hope for a new life, all in one. Enjoy it all while you have it, that’s the lesson we’ve learned.

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21 Comments on “The Icing On The Cake”

  1. Della Says:

    Beautiful cake and wonderful news! So glad for you both.

  2. Julie H. Says:

    Congratulations to the both of you and that cake looks pretty delicious!

  3. Judith klinger Says:

    Bravi. Take life by the balls and run with it. My hat is off to you and my heart wishes you Bon voyage.

  4. Allen Le Couteur Bisson Says:

    Have a good trip. I love France, and go whenever I can, even short trips. Living in Cornwall, it’s a bit easier for us!
    Love to you both from the Land of the Pasty.

  5. anne duchesseanne Says:

    Bonjour de Chartres , je vous souhaite un heureux séjour dans “votre petit coin” de France ; des retrouvailles d’ amitié et de chaleur pour vous deux ; je suis prof d’ anglais , et j’ espère que vous retrouverez avec joie vos cours de Français : bon courage ! I wish you a delightful stay , to fill you up with warmth and the “accent” , the markets , the scents , and the food !! enjoy !! god bless ! anne

  6. Tamiam Says:

    Living well and doing what you dream in spite of circumstances is the best kind of winning. You do it really well.


  7. Hey that’s good news! We’ll be looking for you.
    Barbara


  8. That is great new Abra. David and I will have to get to France now.


  9. Life is short, and it sounds like you’re taking advantage of every precious minute!! Can’t wait to read more posts from France!!

  10. Zuleme Says:

    It is wonderful that you are able to go back to France. We won’t be going this year unless something changes. Our French friend will be coming here this summer though.
    Look forward to your posts from France.

  11. Rebecca Says:

    Your life is already sweet,that cake is just “perfume on the violet”. Blessings on you both, and all who are in your hearts.

  12. Debra Lane Says:

    Abra and Shel – So happy for you that you get to go back to France for a while! I look forward to reading of your new adventures there and also to your return so we can catch up again in person. Safe travels and live life to the fullest. Every moment is precious and you should be where your heart is calling you.

  13. Lori Says:

    What an inspiration you two are. With all of the joie de vivre you spread near and far, karma is paying you back! Looking forward to reading more adventures from France. Can’t tell you how happy this post made me.

  14. Lauren Says:

    Abra – that is great news! And how wonderful that you are able to go back to the same home in Uzes! How far is Uzes from Nice? We’ll be there for one night on May 30th – how fun if we could have dinner!

  15. Abra Bennett Says:

    Thanks for all the good wishes, everyone!

    Lauren, that would be cool, but on May 30 we’ll be in Paris, on our way back to the US.

  16. Paula B Says:

    Sweet story and even sweeter plan. Bon voyage, aujourd’hui et toujours.

  17. Heidi Husnak Says:

    Wow – you are seizing the moment and it is wonderful. Enjoy!!!!

  18. jessica Says:

    Abra, I am so happy for you and Shel. You are both an inspiration to so many. Have a glorious time!

  19. JudyK Says:

    “Wow – you are seizing the moment and it is wonderful. Enjoy!!!!”
    What she said so well. I have always admired the spirit and love of life of both of you.
    ENJOY for sure

  20. Smithy Says:

    You two are both inspirations and excellent examples of how to live life well. Kudos! L’chaim! Brava and bravo! Have a splendid time!

  21. Pille Says:

    Abra, so sorry to only get back to you know – I’m still learning how to juggle a life with two kids, not just one. (Aksel is 2 months now and Nora Adeele 2 years, so it’s a bit tricky). So excited to read that you’re returning to France – and reading the newer post about you arriving at your French home was so sweet and touching!!


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