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Roof Cake…The Evolution of Baked Goods

I’m back. Not sure for how long, but for the moment anyway, I am back.

Like before, I didn’t go anywhere in particular. Just, away. From writing. Which is odd, because I quite enjoy it.

In my defense, I’ve been extraordinarily busy for a few years. I moved—twice. I’ve been running my own food business (food truck, catering, wedding cakes, etc..), and I was working elsewhere.

Plenty of fun things happened for me to write about in that time. But today, I am going to talk to you about Extra Cake, and about the far more exotic Roof Cake.

You see, in my house, Extra Cake is an absolute necessity. Extra cake is the, well, EXTRA cake you make when you are making a cake for an event. The cake that is designed to run interference between your children and the cake that you have been commissioned (read: paid) to make.

In 2006, I made a cake for about 400 people to celebrate the anniversary of the opening of the local office of the company for which I served as the Human Resource Director.  I had been employee number 2 in the local office. I and one of my recruiters sat on the floor, with our laptops on folding chairs, and began recruiting nurses and customer care employees to staff a disease management call center. A year later, with close to 400 employees, we celebrated.

The cake I made was 6 feet long and 2 feet wide. A huge sheet of almond cake with cherry vanilla buttercream frosting. The night before, it waited patiently on my dining room table.

I came down the next morning to discover two stripes down the entire length of the side of the cake. Each stripe about as thick as a six year old’s fingers, and all the way through to the cake.

On a completely unrelated note, my six year old had cherry vanilla buttercream frosting all over his face and shirt. When grilled, he blamed the dog. You know, the one with no fingers.

This was the first of several unfortunate and mysterious incidents wherein cake, or components of cake, disappeared without reason or explanation. I then began to employ the dummy cake. The decoy. The Extra Cake that would distract the, ummm, dog, from stealing cake meant for a work function, a client, or a friend’s nuptials.

The Extra Cake has worked beautifully. In fact, in ten years of employing this diversionary baking tactic, only one legit cake has fallen victim to the, ummm, dog.  ( I am still trying to figure out how the dog was able to reach that particular cake, perched on top of my 7 foot tall kitchen hutch. Or how he was able to slice a large portion out of the three layer, iced confection, with near surgical precision. You know, without the previously stated fingers, or opposable thumbs.)

But, I digress.

One of my oldest childhood friends, Carla, was staying with me earlier this year, and she had come to enjoy the nearly constant presence of Extra Cake. It was she that was with me the day we discovered the existence of Roof Cake.

Roof Cake appears to have started out as Extra Cake, before some sort of evolutionary metamorphosis took place.

Some weeks prior, I had been working on a wedding cake for a friend’s wedding. It was a four tier, naked cake. The bottom tier was an Earl Grey tea cake, with grapefruit marmalade filling. The next layer was Green Tea with plum filling. The next was Hibiscus Tea cake with Orange, and the top was Lavender with Honey. All barely iced with Vanilla Bean buttercream.

Of course, to protect the wedding cake, the diversionary Extra Cake had been deployed. A three layer, oval Earl Grey cake with vanilla buttercream filling and frosting. It worked as intended, with the now 18 year old, who had finally learned to stop blaming the dog, accepting this offering to the cake-thieving Gods to leave the wedding cake alone. I walked past his room the night after making it, and saw the cake—THE WHOLE CAKE—sitting on his night stand, fork sticking out the top, cake partially consumed.  I told him to make sure to put it in the fridge when he was done with it. Eye rolling ensued. “Yeah, yeah. I know”

Several weeks later—4 weeks is my best guess—I happened into his room (I try not to enter it as a rule—it smells like dirty gym socks and other gross boy-child smells). I placed some folded linens in his closet and saw the cake. Still with the fork sticking out the top. Not much progress had been made since I had last seen it. And now it had entered into an advanced stage of metamorphosis. A petrified cake, if you will. I screeched at the boy throw that thing in the trash.

So anyway, one day I arrived home from the store, and saw what looked like a cowboy hat on my roof. Even in Texas, that’s weird. Really.

I mentioned it to Carla, because we had been hearing some noises coming from my roof lately, and were trying to decide if raccoons had made their way into my attic, or if squirrels were capable of much larger noises than previously thought. Or if he chupacabra. Yeah, yeah. I know.

She and I both went to the front of the house and got as close to the thing as we could, and both agreed that although it looked like a hat, that was pretty improbable. (On a side -note, if it was a hat, I definitely needed to know what man was walking around my roof, and did he possess enough reason to be there so as not to get shot….#CountryProblems)

Then I decide that maybe, somehow, it’s part of my chimney that a raccoon has drug out whilst making himself home in there. Bastard.

So I grab a ladder and put it against the shed in the back of my house. It’s the easiest way to access any roof space, and It’s only about 4 foot jump over to the roof of my back patio from there. I get on the shed, jump to the house roof, and climb up over the top to the front.

I approach the hat, close to the front edge of my roof, and I discover that it is, in fact, the remains of a partially eaten, three layer, oval-shaped Earl Grey Tea cake with Vanilla buttercream frosting. Still attached to the cake board. Still with a fork sticking out the top. Because apparently, walking 80 feet through the house to the trash can is harder than opening one’s window and chunking the cake onto the roof (a feat which took impressive upper arm strength, given the distance and trajectory).

Carla and I decided that NO WONDER critters wanted to reside in and around my roof, what with the presence of Roof Cake and all.

*************************

So, the Roof Cake was Earl Grey cake, which is my favorite cake, especially for weddings. The hints of bergamot and citrus are subtly enough and the sand color is a nice canvas for all sorts of uses, if you’re doing cupcakes or naked cakes with it.

Each layer of the wedding cake I mentioned was a different tea flavored cake, and I used the same recipe for each tier, simply subbing in the dried leaves or tea required for each.

Earl Grey Tea Cake

Makes a 3 layer, 10 inch cake

  • 5 cup All Purpose Flour

  • 2 cup Cake Flour

  • 4 tsp Baking Powder

  • 2 tsp Salt

  • 3 cup Milk, very hot

  • 8 Earl Grey Tea Bags

  • 8 tsp Vanilla

  • 2 cup salted Butter, softened

  • 6 cup Sugar

  • 8 Eggs

Filling: 10-12 oz jar orange or lemon marmalade

Frosting: vanilla bean buttercream recipe of your choice. I use a Swiss Buttercream, because I don’t like the cloying sweetness of American buttercream.

Preheat oven to 350*

Line three, 10″ round cake pans with parchment, and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix together flours, baking powder and salt, and set aside.

Place tea bags in hot milk and let steep until milk has cooled to room temp. Dispose of tea bags.

Beat butter and sugar together until creamy. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add in 1/3 of the tea and 1/3 of the flour mixture, mixing just until combined. Repeat with the second third of the wet and dry ingredients, and finally with the last. Finally, stir in the vanilla.

Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350* for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool for ten minutes before inverting onto cooling racks to cool completely. Then, divide the marmalade between the layers, stack the layers neatly, and frost as desired.

 

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Categories: BAKING, children, dessert, Family, Food, Gourmet, humor, recipes, Texas, Uncategorized, writing

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