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Birthday's Return – swell

Birthday's Return

GF Vanilla Blackberry Cake with Chocolate Ganache 2
Roasted Tempeh and Vegetables with Squash and Mixed Greens
GF Vanilla Blackberry Cake with Chocolate Ganache
GF Vanilla Blackberry Cake with Chocolate Ganache Slice

I know I haven’t blogged in almost a month.  With the holidays and unmotivatingly freezing temperatures until just a couple days ago I’ve mostly been in hibernation mode (and no offense, but I mean really freezing, not frost-in-Florida-or -California-freezing.  Like a few weeks in which we barely crept above zero and more often were dealing with windchills of -30F.  It’s not fun to walk 10 blocks to work in, believe me.).  BUT!  Yesterday was my birthday, and I took the opportunity to make myself some fancy things and get back into this business.

There seem to be different camps when it comes to birthdays and what constitutes “fun” vs. “sad.”  As in when I tell people I’m baking my own birthday cake and most of the time the other person looks at me with a slight frown and says with pity, “Aww, that’s sad that no one else will make you a cake for your birthday.”  But for me, it’s something I like to do and don’t do very often at home.  But first things first, dinner:

I roasted up a casserole dish full of brussels sprouts, cremini mushrooms, tempeh and leeks with garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.  I had it with a side of squash and dijon-cashew gravy, and some mixed greens with vinaigrette and blueberries.  It was delicious!  I ate it while watching one of my favorite Japanese sci-fi/art house films.

I made the Golden Vanilla Cake recipe from Ricki’s Sweet Freedom cookbook, subbing some gluten-free flour mix and coconut flour for the spelt, and adding frozen blackberries to the batter.  Then I made her recipe for gluten-free, soy-free Pastry Cream, only subbing a bit of arrowroot for the cornstarch (it uses millet to thicken it…fancy!).  The pastry cream went between the layers, and though I had great ambitions to make avocado frosting and add kiwis and all sorts of things, my frosting ended up browning despite the lemon juice and it would have made for a seemingly swamp-derived cake.  I don’t really like buttercream-type frostings or most frostings actually (too sweet) so when all else fails, I’ve decided that coconut milk ganache fixes all ills.  A lovely reader recently sent me some unused gf flours she had since going raw along with a bar 70% dark chocolate, and it came in superhandy!  Once the ganache was poured I decorated the cake with edible flowers and fresh blueberries.

While the cake was devoured at the 4th annual gay bar extravaganza (my friend and coworker has his birthday the day after mine, and we have eerily parallel lives/attributes not the least of which are being gay and Swedish Capricorns), I felt like I had to try the cake out at home, you know, to make sure it was fit to serve other people.  And it was, and people loved it, which made me happy since it was my first homemade gluten-free cake.

I’ll probably still be a bit under the radar for awhile yet.  My girlfriend and her band are leaving for their first European tour next week and everyone is busy getting ready for that.  To all my lovely European readers: if strange math rock trios with a really amazing lady drummer :) are your thing, and they’re headed to your city, please go support them.  I know I’m biased, but I promise I’m not the only person who thinks they’re amazing.

I’m also in the process of designing the new blog with a friend of mine and figuring out everything involved in that.  But I do plan on eating a lot of raw food while I’m “home alone” and that’s plenty of inspiration for blogging in the winter.  Hope you are all having a great start to 2010!

31 Responses to “Birthday's Return”

  1. Megan says:

    OH MAN! Come make that cake for my birthday!! :D

  2. Kim says:

    my goodness, that cake is gorgeous. ricki is a genius. so are you. :)

  3. Very pretty cake! I’d love to hear how the ganache was made.

    • a-k says:

      Well, the ganache was really easy to make: I chopped up a full bar of chocolate and put it in a bowl, and heated almost a full can of coconut milk on the stove until it got really hot. Then I poured the hot coconut milk over the chocolate bits, let it sit for a minute or two to melt, and whisked it together until smooth and poured it over the cake. Honestly I just eyeballed the measurements, so I hope that helps!

  4. Autumn Tao says:

    Those who think baking your own birthday cake is sad (1) don’t understand the joy & pride that comes with baking from scratch and (2) don’t understand that a vegan birthday is always worth baking. Happy Belated!

    • a-k says:

      Thanks, and I totally agree! Although I guess they come from the school of thought that you should be pampered and take the day off for your birthday, which I do understand to an extent. I’m just not one of them. :P

  5. Lauren says:

    Beautiful cake.. my birthday is Feb.1..hint hint! LOL!

    • a-k says:

      If anyone ever figures out how to ship a cake safely and cheaply, I’d consider sending them out! I’d probably have to give up my job though…

  6. BitterSweet says:

    Oh how funny, my birthday was just two days ago!

    Happy birthday! :)

  7. Courtney says:

    Awwww…Happy Birthday A-K! I hope you had a lovely day :-) Your cake looks delish, and I am glad everyone liked it!

    We should do something soon!


  8. Ricki says:

    So glad you liked the cake and pastry cream! And glad the GF subs worked so well. :) I love how you decorated the cake, too–so pretty. Looking forward to more GF and raw dishes from you.

    Oh–and HAPPY BIRTHDAY! :)

    • a-k says:

      I gave my ladyfriend a taste of some leftover pastry cream while I was decorating the cake and she said “Yum! This is really bad for me, isn’t it?” :) (It’s far healthier than regular pastry cream!)

      Your cookbook really is THE BEST, Ricki!

  9. Jes says:

    That cake is rockin! Most people really can’t fathom the fun of making one’s own b’day cake, but really, unless the other person is a vegan whiz, my own taste better (plus I do love a challenge). My mom even made her own 2nd wedding cake since she didn’t trust anyone else (she used to have a business making cakes). Can’t wait to see what the new website is and *please* stay warm! I can’t imagine the temps!

    • a-k says:

      Wow, making your own wedding cake sounds stressful…but I guess maybe if you were that stressed out about your cake in general, it was more relieving? Thanks for the warmth wishes!

  10. veganlisa says:

    happy happy birthday!

    Sometimes if you want something done right you just have to do it yourself. It sounds like you created the perfect dinner and dessert combination for your palate. I look forward to your raw creations. Your raw crepe recipes was a huge hit at my New Years brunch.

    Thank you.

    • a-k says:

      I’m so glad the crepes were a hit! And yes, my dinner/dessert combo was rockin just for me. I look forward to making more raw stuff as well…I’ve got to get out of my wintery rut first, though.

  11. Mandee says:

    Happy B’day, A.K!

    I don’t baking your own b’day cake is sad, I agree that it’s fun and I love making my own too.

    Your cake looks beautiful, I love the blueberries around the edge!

  12. mihl says:

    Belated happy birthday! People should clearly appreciate your cake skills and not pity your for making your own. I do definitely envy your skills, that cake is so beautiful!

  13. Carol says:

    Yea, you’re back! Missed you. You’re in my top 10 go to list of food blogs.

  14. Michal says:

    That cake looks delicious!

  15. Mo says:

    That cake is beautiful!!!

  16. Keeryah says:

    that’s too funny; i constantly have to explain my desire to make my own birthday cake. i get a whole lot of furrowed brows and “but why?”‘s when i start to excitedly gush about my plan for this year’s better-than-ever cake. c’est la vie, i suppose!

    your cake is stunning to look at! i may even be salivating a little! i’m not surprised it was enjoyed by everyone.

  17. Yoga Witch says:

    Happy birthday! What a delightful looking cake!

  18. Kala says:

    Happy Birthday, your cake looks gorgeous and yummy!

  19. mangocheeks says:

    That is one of the most beautiful cakes i have ever seen. thank you so much for sharing.

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