Monday, July 19, 2010

Go with what you know

Today is a special day! It’s a milestone birthday for Beth, the most important person in the entire universe. There’s little to nothing I wouldn’t do for her, so when she asks me to make her favorite cake and decorate it with flowers, I do so with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.

Beth loves the devil’s food cake recipe from Eleanor Ostman’s Always on Sunday frosted with the chocolate mousse frosting from Joy of Cooking. I usually decorate her cake with fresh pansies and mint leaves from the garden.

“But,” I wondered, “what if I candy the flowers?” I mulled over the advantages. “They will stay pretty for longer. I can preserve them in advance. I can capture them at the apex of their bloom, and they will look FABULOUS.”

And besides, it would be one more layer of elegance. One more confectionary demonstration of how much I love this brilliant woman. She makes my whole world feel like chocolate cake and a field of flowers. Why wouldn’t I want to pull out all the stops on her birthday?

So I studied up on how to candy the flowers. I picked the best ones, freshened them in cold water, and brushed them in egg wash with a clean, fine paintbrush. I dusted them as gently as I could with superfine sugar. I laid them carefully on parchment to dry.

I succeeded in turning the simple beauty of summer pansies…

into these sugar-mummified floral corpses.

I did not have the heart to put them on a cake this important. Good thing I have been super nice to my pansies all month. They were kind enough to have opened some new flowers. Thanks, pansies. I’ll go with what I know and not count on fancy sugar acrobatics to carry the day.

Happy birthday, dear Beth!


  1. That is a good-looking cake. Happy birthday Beth!

    (I'm amazed that your pansies look this good in the heat too)

  2. Thank you and thank you - I will pass along the birthday greeting.

    I have been watering the pansies every day, deadheading them scrupulously, and telling them how pretty they are. We can't possibly keep up this pace much longer, the pansies and I.


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