Birthday cake special

By Laura Venuto

Chief sub-editor Laura Venuto says happy birthday the MiNDFOOD way.

When your dad turns 70 you need a good cake, especially when he’s as loved a fellow as my dad. But Mum and I struggled to find just the right recipe in any of our cookbooks. Then I remembered the cake of all cakes: MiNDFOOD’s second birthday cake.

Our food editor, Dixie, had brought it into the office for us to taste test one afternoon. It was just about the sweetest, most decadent thing I have ever tasted in my life, with layers of white chocolate cream and best of all, chunks of caramel praline throughout – and as my dad’s favourite ice cream in the whole world is the decidedly ’70s hokey pokey (vanilla with chunks of caramel), this cake had his name written all over it.

But … it’s a four-layered tier cake … an absolute monster of a culinary creation. And I ain’t been to no bake-offs lately. Let’s just say, I’m glad I had Mum there.

The almond praline was pretty straightforward, and it looked so good we couldn’t resist having a wee nibble on it as soon as it set. But we very nearly came unstuck on the cake itself (not the best place to come unstuck, I’ll admit). The 20cm cake pan as advised in the recipe just looked far too small to create such an enormous cake, but Mum made the wise point that when it comes to baking, you stick to instruction or guarantee disaster! It also seemed like the pan was far too full of mixture, and we feared that it would rise too high too quickly and run everywhere, leaving us with not much more than crumbs to serve up for Dad’s big day. But then we figured that the amount of sour cream in the mixture should stop it from over-rising, which, thankfully, it did.

Once baked, we attempted to cut four even layers of the cake, and it was like a scene out of Faulty Towers, only the Italian version. There was a lot of hand flailing, booming voices and rather pleasant-sounding curses. In the end, it was steady-handed Dad who came to the rescue (of his own cake!) after jokingly calling my mother a “bloody stubborn woman” for insisting we cut it into four layers instead of his suggested three.

As for the white-chocolate filling, let’s just say I could feel my thighs expanding just folding in all that cream, white chocolate and more cream.

Everything was going swimmingly, but then, alas, as we attempted to strategically manouevre the top layer into place (using numerous spatulas and all four of our hands) it cracked – oh no! We patched it up with lots of cream, but the cake had a fairly obvious middle-age spread about it. We joked that perhaps that was fitting and besides, as with all cooking, it’s all about the taste, right? So when Dad closed his eyes in a kind of sugar-induced ecstasy and declared, “Bloody magnificent, love”, we knew the effort had all been worthwhile. 


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