Throughout the years, I’ve figured out who’s who and have happily settled into the habit of turning out birthday cakes that will either surprise those who like to be surprised or making old favorites for those who have decided on one kind.
With that in mind, I’m embarking on a year of birthday cakes for those cake fans out there.
For world-traveling Polly, a cake or torte in the European tradition is called for. Arguably, it is multi component, a more sophisticated cake, perhaps lower in height than our American layer cakes. I created this cake as a composite of my idea of several European cakes. I wanted a dense chocolate cake, with ground almonds in the batter, accented with orange liqueur and orange peel. The chocolate should be very good quality and bittersweet: 70% cocoa solids.
I was gifted with an exquisite jar of marmalade, so I decided on a marmalade buttercream, the sides frosted with chocolate ganache. I used the back of a teaspoon to create rustic swirls along the top edge, framing the translucent layer of marmalade. A layer of marzipan or almond paste rolled over the top of the buttercream gave the marmalade a light background on which to sparkle. The marzipan also added to the old-world vibe of the cake and adds to the complexity. You can read my notes in the illustration below. I’m so glad I wrote it down since it was a cake with many parts. It was a hit at the birthday gathering, but who knows what I’ll do for the intrepid Polly next year.