Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Apparently I made raspberry jam this past summer
I say, apparently, because I have no recollection of making this kind of jam. I remember making strawberry, vanilla-rhubarb and vanilla-plum, however. How can I spend an afternoon making something and not remember it?
That's how my summer went. I have several patches of low-memory from the summer. So, when fall slid in, I felt like I never had a summer. I will endeavor to make up for that with Summer 2017!
Anyway, here's the frugal cake that I made to celebrate both my son's (Nov. 19) and his girlfriend's (Nov. 16) birthdays.
The cake, itself, is a scratch vanilla butter cake, using the recipe in this link. I baked it early in the week, and froze the layers. I made a frosting of cocoa powder, butter, confectioner's sugar, vanilla, salt and milk. I had a busy weekend, before the celebration, so I made the frosting a couple of days in advance, and kept it covered in the refrigerator. By doing so, I had the ease of canned frosting, on the day of putting the cake together.
To make our celebration cakes "fancy", I like to split the layers, using my serrated bread knife, and spooning in generous amounts of homemade jam. For this cake, I discovered the homemade raspberry jam in my garage fridge. A delightful surprise to me! (That's the upside of my recent forgetful episode -- lots of stuff come as delightful surprises.) This is a simple trick that really elevates an ordinary layer cake, in a matter of 5 or 10 extra minutes.
Just before putting candles on the cake, I also spooned some warmed jam (warmed, to thin it for pouring) over the top of the chocolate-frosted cake. I love to combination of berries and chocolate.
I estimate that my home-baked, scratch birthday cake cost about $2.50, for the cake, the frosting and the jam. I spent about 1 hour and 10 minutes of hands-on time, making this cake. If I had bought a bakery birthday cake, of this quality, my cost would have been about $25. I compare my scratch cakes to those of a moderate bakery, which would use premium ingredients, such as butter, real vanilla and a fruit filling, in addition to a buttercream icing. In such case, I "earned" about $19 per hour for my time investment.
There are some things in life that matter to me. A cake made with quality ingredients happens to be one of those. I've enjoyed baking since I was 8 years old. It seems fitting that this would be on my personal list of things that brings me enjoyment, both in the consuming and creating.