What do you get when you bring together thirteen food-loving, ambitious bakers into one kitchen? Lots of cake. Nineteen cakes, to be exact. We had Cookie Day, and we had Pie Day, so you know cake day was not too far behind. I was invited to last year’s edition but unfortunately was unable to attend, so when the date was set for the 2013 edition, I quickly booked it in my calendar and started researching cake recipes.
The concept for Cake Day is simple. Much like Cookie Day and Pie Day, everyone bakes a cake (or two, for us ambitious folks!) and shares it. While with previous days, most of us arrived with our cookies and pies already baked, much of the cake baking was happening that day. It was a long day, but no one seemed to mind being in such lovely company, the house constantly smelled of cake (can’t complain about that!), and the promise of lots of delicious cakes at the end.
Our fabulous friend JoAnne was gracious enough to host all of us at her home—her large kitchen with two ovens made it possible for all thirteen of us to bake and assemble cakes without wrestling one another for counter space. Two working stations with stand mixers were set up in the kitchen, while the laundry room transformed into the cooling/staging room. As I stepped into the house, I was instantly greeted with the 9-feet long dining table already set-up (pedestals included) for the finished cakes.
What I love about these gatherings is that we all come with different skill levels as a baker, and yet everyone brought their A-game on. Ambitious bakers, like master baker Jen, tried her hand at the artistic and precise Mondrian-inspired cake. Another baker admitted that this was his first time making a layer cake, but you’d think he was baking them for years by his gorgeous finished cake.
The first group was already in the kitchen baking their cakes by the time a few of us arrived. While people took turns at the ovens, the rest of us relaxed out on the patio and enjoyed the incredible savoury spread that was laid out for us—melt-in-your-mouth Chengdu-braised pork and fragrant grilled lemongrass pork shoulder served over plain white rice; a pickled cucumber salad to help cut through the fattiness of the pork; an incredibly delicious mushroom pate that tasted just like a can of cream of mushroom soup; muhamara dip (roasted red pepper and walnuts); salt cod fritters; Brazilian cheese bread; japchae; mango salsa; and a variety of chips.
|Photo by Jen Chan / @foodpr0n.|
|Photo by Jen Chan / @foodpr0n.|
The day plugged on and we all took turns at the bat, but by around five in the afternoon, the ovens were finally turned off as we made final touches to our cakes. We then spent over two hours staging cakes, photographing cakes, slicing cakes, taking more photos of cake, and distributing cakes into cake boxes. Would we ever actually get to eat these cakes?!
Finally, with all thirteen boxes packed, all the dishes washed or loaded into the dishwasher, and the counters wiped down, we were ready to taste test. We all eagerly stood around the table with our fork in hand and walked around (clockwise!), taking a bite of cake from each plate, pausing here and there as we came across our favourites. Every single cake was incredibly tasty, but ones that especially stood out for me were:
Strawberry Custard Cake — Reminiscent of the strawberry cakes I used to have as a kid. The cake was made the day before, and I always find they taste so much better the next day, after the cake has had a chance to soak up all the custard and strawberry juices. Tastes just like strawberry and creams.
Root Beer Bundt Cake — I was intrigued by this cake from the get-go and was wondering how pronounced the root beer flavour would come through. Boy, can you taste the root beer. So flavourfuly, and incredibly rich and fudgy. Candy especially tracked down root beer schnapps in the states for this cake.
Pistachio-Cardamom Tres Leches — I love tres leches cake, and this version was upped a notch with the exotic addition of cardamom.
Pistachio Petits Four Cake — The combination of apricot jam and marzipan was lovely.
Lemon Curd Layer Cake — With a number of heavier cakes, it was lovely to have a bite of this light vanilla chiffon layered with tart lemon curd. A refreshing palate cleanser.
By the end of the night, we were all tired and in danger of falling into a cake coma (I’m pretty sure I woke up the next morning with a cake hangover though). We packed up our cars and went home full and happy, with takeaway cake boxes filled to the brim in tow. It was a beautiful day, and I’m blessed to have been a part of such a wonderful day with such talented people. A huge thank you to JoAnne for opening her home to all of us and letting us make a mess of her kitchen. And big hugs to all my friends and fellow bakers—you are all a constant source of inspirattion, and I'm always left in awe by the sheer talent you all bring to the kitchen. It was an honour to bake alongside you all!
Oh, and what did I make, you’re wondering? A chocolate cake with toasted marshmallow filling and malted chocolate buttercream. But more on that later this week! ;-)
- 1 litre of buttermilk and whipping cream
- 3 kilograms of flour
- 4 dozen eggs
- 5 kilograms of sugar
- 6 pounds of cake we each hauled home
- 8 pounds of butter
- 12-hour Cake Day
- 18 pounds of pork consumed that day
- 19 glorious cakes!
There are a LOT more photos of all of the day's cakes, including fun portrait shots of each baker and our respective cakes. Be sure to check them all out here!