Hi, guys. It’s been awhile. I’ve been busy with some work stuff and more importantly, some birthday party stuff.
Yeah, I’m 31 years old and I still care about my birthday. I realize this may seem juvenile, or just plain self-centered, and, yeah, it may very well be those things. But to me at least, it’s also something more.
If you know me fairly well, you’ll know that the last few years have been pretty rough. Between health problems that have lingered for far too long and the anxiety and depression that so often go along with feeling bad for far too long, things haven’t been great sometimes.
I don’t say that for pity or sympathy or anything. (I suck with pity and sympathy. Don’t give it to me. I’ll be awkward about it.) Besides, I am getting better. Just far more slowly than I’d like to. And, even with all that, I’m still far luckier than a whole heck of a lot of other people. I get that.
I just say these things because I want you to know where I’m coming from when I tell you that sometimes feeling well enough to celebrate is reason enough to celebrate.
Life is too short, and frankly sometimes too hard, for you not to do the things you want to do when you want to do them.
So if you feel good (physically, mentally, the whole deal) celebrate, man. Find the things that bring you joy and embrace them unapologetically and enthusiastically. Even if they seem silly. Even if they seem stupid. Even if they seem weird.
Because who cares if it’s weird? Just be you. Just go for it. Go big. Go bold.
Or, in my case, go bake.
Which leads me to the birthday party. I had a Great British Baking Show-themed birthday party. (Because of course I did.)
And I had big plans for it. Because I love big plans. (This is one of the several hundred ways I hope to one day be like Leslie Knope.)
Unfortunately, unlike Leslie Knope, I sometimes don’t do as well with time-management, so my big plans are fine until I actually need to do them. At this point, I usually realize I have overdone it and I look a little something like this:
Because the thing is, I got carried away with the bakes. As it was a GBBS-themed birthday party, I had to deliver on the bakes, right? Of course, I did. The only problem was I decided to deliver on six of them.
If you’ve been following along with the blog, you’ll know that I’m still a novice baker. With most of the desserts I’ve tackled so far, the time I make them for the blog is the first time I’ve baked them. So, yeah, just to remind you, I’m essentially approaching every bake like this:
But, I figured I would just do some of the bakes I’d done before, so it should be no big deal, right? I mean, I’d already done them once (to varying degrees of success) but I figured the second time would be easier.
Uhh….yeah, I was wrong. Because some of the bakes weren’t necessarily easier the second time around and some of them I didn’t end up doing at all, because, umm, time was a factor (a factor I did not manage well).
Okay, here’s what I attempted to bake in a span of two days for more than two dozen guests: a Swiss Cake Roll, Mary Berry’s Cherry Cake, Mini Coffee and Walnut Cakes, Sugar Cookies (which I shaped like tea bags – because, Britain, guys), a Tiramisu Cake and Florentines.
Of these, Mary Berry’s Cherry Cake is the only thing I abandoned entirely, because I didn’t have time. I did however manage to bake everything else, again to varying degrees of success.
But I can say that my Swiss Cake Roll actually looked like a Swiss Cake Roll this time. Which is a massive improvement from my first attempt which looked like a folded, cracked mess of cream. Don’t remember that particular bake? Check out the first blog in my series. Yeah, I’ve come a long way from there baby, if I do say so myself (at least when it comes to Swiss Cake Rolls.
I did however manage to sort of (mostly) burn a good chunk of the Florentines and the sugar cookies. I then decided to partially dip the sugar cookies in almond bark to cover up the burned bits. Shhhh…don’t tell anyone they were a little burned. It will be our little secret.
And the tiramisu cake, well, that turned out to be the most annoying thing of all. In retrospect, the fact that I was making it about an hour before people arrived and I probably wasn’t in the best head-space was probably part of the problem.
Anyhoo, on GBBS, Mary Berry’s Tiramisu Cake was a technical challenge so our normally-lovable GBBS judge, Mary Berry, made it extra tricky for the GBBS contestants. For starters, she made the bakers cut a sponge cake that was approximately an inch thick, in half. Horizontally. This is just brutal.
I wanted to have the tallest sponge cake possible for my tiramisu cake, because, well I had to cut in half. Horizontally, remember? Which is just nuts. So I was careful not to over-mix, which Mary warned me could reduce the cake’s height. Unfortunately, I under-mixed it. So when I cut my sponge cake in half, there where just a bunch of chunks of unmixed flour inside of it.
So, yeah, I had to make a whole other sponge cake for the Tiramisu Cake. But this time I wasn’t playing Mary Berry’s cut-cakes-in-half-horizontally-game, so instead I just doubled the recipe and made two cakes. That way I wouldn’t have to cut them in half to get the number of layers I needed. This was sort of genius on my part. So yeah, I was feeling pretty good.
Unfortunately, when I was putting the cake together, I forgot that I had essentially doubled the thickness of my sponge cake, so in turn, I would need to double the amount of coffee/rum mixture I would need to soak said sponges. So, yeah my cake wasn’t as coffee/rum soaked as it should have been.
And, as for the coffee and walnut cakes, yeah, those didn’t get their little decorations on top because yeah, time was a problem.
But the thing is, none of that really mattered. All that mattered is the fact that I had a Great British Baking Show party. And it had all of this stuff:
And all of this food:
But, most importantly, of all, it had a bunch of my favorite people in the same place at the same time. And that’s pretty freaking great and had me feeling like:
So thanks to everyone who came out for the party! And special thanks to Molly who did the decorations. (She will pretend I did, but I did not.) And to Sharon and Beth for helping me with last-minute cooking, baking and dish-washing. You’re the best. And to Aunt Mona who was smart enough to take photos, when I was not. P.S. I used some of your pictures.
Anyhoo, next week, I’ll get back to my regular baking schedule. I’m supposed to be making a tower of pies. Which after the party, should be easy, right?
Or, you know, maybe not.
P.S. Just a reminder “Sometimes I Bake Mistakes” has a Facebook page now. It’s @sometimesibakemistakesblog.
You can follow it, if you feel like it. No pressure.