, for Michelle's birthday, I decided to bake her cake and make it myself instead of buying it. Sure, I could have just ran out and bought her a cake, but I figured she'd appreciate the time and effort I spent in baking her one at home.
I'm definitely not a baker by any means, and while I enjoy cooking, baking is not my idea of "fun" like it might be for some people. Nevertheless, I decided to make Michelle a black forest cake for her birthday, since she likes chocolate. (I even added chocolate chips to the cake for her!)
I was originally going to bake Michelle a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream, but the idea to make a black forest cake occurred to me at the store when I was picking up the ingredients.
On a very tight deadline and with no time for mistakes, I had to cross my fingers and hope that everything turned out well the first time. I had to leave to meet Michelle and our friends in Chinatown for Michelle's birthday dinner (steamed pickerel – YUM!).
I couldn't find shaved chocolate, so I bought some bakers chocolate and a cheese grater and decided to shave my own chocolate at home. When I first started shaving the chocolate, it quickly became obvious that a regular vegetable peeler works much better than a cheese grater, but the chocolate started to melt in my hands a bit, so I decided it freeze it to make it easier to work with. Later on, I discovered that in order to get bigger shavings, room-temperature chocolate is actually best. The chilled chocolate didn't shave very well and just crumbled… But I didn't have time to wait for it to thaw, so I had no choice but to just do it that way.
Before I left, I took the finished cake out of the freezer and moved it into the fridge, and noticed that the store-bought whipped cream (from a can) started melting. It looked terrible! The whipped cream I made from scratch was fine and holding very well, but the canned stuff (used on top for decoration, since I don't have a piping bag) was crap. It destroyed my otherwise noble attempt at baking a cake… :-( Ah well, I had to run…
When we came back, I asked my friend Mel (who is an exceptional professional baker) if she could write
"Happy Birthday Michelle" on the cake for me. It turns out, icing on top of shaved white chocolate is never a good idea since the chocolate "CakeMate" icing had nothing to stick to – oops! It was a big struggle for Mel to write anything (or even squeeze the stuff out of the tube) and with the limited resources at our house currently, it was better to quit while we were ahead, so Michelle's cake only had "Happy Bday" on it… no name :-(
The final verdict was that the cake tasted good, but it had too much whipped cream topping for my taste. (I knew it did, but I needed a way to level out my crooked cake! LOL) And Michelle genuinely appreciated my efforts, so that made it worth it…
I think that with more time and not feeling so rushed, I should be able to produce much better results next time, but to be honest, I'd rather leave the baking to Michelle (and/or Mel) from now on.