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.