Tartine Baking Project: #66 Summer Fruit Bavarian

This past weekend, by incredibly amazing husband celebrated his birthday.  I’ve been planning to surprise him for a few weeks now, and am pleased to report it worked.  He was surprised!  I didn’t want to be the one to ruin it, I was concerned to say or do anything that would give any plans away.  I avoided hints, I avoided insisting I had nothing planned – the result: he just thought I was pretty lame.

(Oh, and I’m pretty bad at taking photos in the midst of a party.  I’m not sure what it is that subconsciously rattles me, but that paired with the fact that is was nighttime means there are not so great photos this go round!)

The one request I got from the birthday boy was strawberries.  He adores the strawberry Betty Crocker cake, so I thought this would be the closest equivalent that I could make.  The génoise, which is the type of cake, I went with is simple and straight forward.  I went this route because I made the cake the day of the party, and told him it was for the next day, which was his actual birthday.  That cakes makes me worry – I feel like the cake batter really deflates when I fold in the flour every time I make it.  I had to do some research on the cake to make sure what I was getting was a proper génoise.  I feel confident it is now, so that’s great.

Dan’s party was really an ‘Inception’ theme.  Not really, but just as the movie has a dream within a dream within a dream, his party had a couple layers, a surprise within a surprise. He thought the big surprise was when a group of his guy friends came over and took him out to get some drinks!  Nope, I just needed him out of the house!  Once he was gone, it was a whirlwind of decorating, getting myself ready, cleaning, running to the store, and getting Jack to bed.  I had a couple lovely friends, and my sister, who came and helped me out with all of that.  We pulled it off, and I can’t think of anyone who deserves the effort of a surprise party more.

For rushing my way through a cake in order to make sure it had at least the minimum time it required to chill in the fridge, I’d say it was a success.  The clean plates lining the room spoke for themselves.  Well, either people liked them or just felt like they had to eat the whole thing because I was standing right there.  I’m happy with both conclusions.



Highways and Byways and Roadside Fruit Stands

One of my favorite things about the summer are the roadside fruit stands.  You’d never be driving with some specific destination in mind, then see a grocery store and think to yourself, “Whoa! I must pull over and get some fresh fruit right now!”  I’m not saying buying fruit at the grocery store is bad, I do it all the time.  It’s just the magic and spontaneity of such a specific impulse buy is part of the beauty of summer.  You weren’t planning on stopping, but you know it’s there and the fruit calls to you.  You pull over on the shoulder of the road, into a dirt parking lot, finagle illegal u-turns to get at that fresh fruit.  Those peaches.  Those blueberries.  In this case, these strawberries!

We have our regular favorites, stands that we make sure we pass by at certain times of the season.  I do love traveling on new roads, heading to new places, and coming across unfamiliar roadside stands.  Sinking your teeth into the fruit, with no one around, makes you feel like you found some secret treasure no one has yet to discover.  Even though you feel like the only person in the world who’s ever been in that spot, there have been a great many people who have stood in that very spot feeling like they were the first person to discover that fruit stand as well.  That must be the exact feeling Christopher Columbus felt, right?