Why oh why couldn’t I have kept it simple? A quick and easy French pound cake, baked in a loaf tin and brushed with a marmalade glaze. Practically no room for error, right? That was until my eye caught the ‘Variations’ listed on the adjoining page, and my imagination ran wild with visions of a round layer cake filled with lemon curd.
I suppose my first clue that maybe this would go so very wrong was when I spent several hours trying to obtain an offset spatula and cake leveller. My excitement gradually shifted to frustration as store after store yielded blank results and even blanker stares from store employees. My search for lemon marmalade and store-bought lemon curd also were a lesson in futility. Still I was determined to soldier on!
The next night I started in on the cake, and at first everything seemed to go well. I ground my almonds and made my batter. Then, after the cake had cooled sufficiently (I thought) I sliced it carefully with a long serrated knife and spread it with my homemade lemon curd. It wasn’t too long before the curd started to ooze, much to my distress! I don’t know if this was due to residual warmth inside the cake, the weight of the top layer, not leaving a large enough rim or all of the above! Needless to say at that point I was ready to throw my hands in the air and walk away. I told myself instead to just make the frosting, and let everything chill and firm up again.
I decided to go with a buttercream frosting, and everything went well at first. At first. I quickly began to realize I didn’t have enough icing sugar on hand. It was now around 2a.m. and my nerves were growing rawer and rawer by the second. I grabbed a box of superfine castor sugar and dumped it in the bowl. HUGE MISTAKE. HUGE. GRITTY.MISTAKE. My icing was ruined, and no amount of whipping, beating, or even heating (yes I thought I could melt it down, and then firm it back up) made a lick of difference. I threw the batch out and admitted defeat. I would have to go out in the morning, get icing sugar, shortening, butter, and try again.
Shakily (I don’t deal with exhaustion or stress very well, and I was now feeling both in ABUNDANT doses) I wrapped the cake in saran wrap and placed it in the fridge. J washed the dishes before heading home and I stumbled up the stairs with the hopes that morning would rekindle my enthusiasm for this recipe.
What I saw when I headed downstairs and opened the fridge the next day made me realize my hopeful thinking was nothing more than exactly that. Somehow in his rummaging my father had tilted the cake and removed (?) a large part of the saran wrap. As a result the layers had slowly slid apart and cracks had formed in the top layer. ACK ACK ACK! After a mini meltdown, I did my best to ‘slide’ the layers back into alignment, but something had gone horribly wrong somehow and at times the edges were flush, and at other points they were completely off-kilter. I called J and asked him if I should just give up and make the basic loaf version instead and hurl this one into the sky. He said that would be a waste and to hold on and he would bring the icing ingredients over later. Deep inside I knew he made sense, so I tried my best to lower my blood pressure until he arrived.
Once he did I gave the frosting another try and everything came together effortlessly. The way I wish everything had the night before.
After the icing had set I cut slices and shared them around. Everyone loved it. Everyone but me. I just couldn’t taste anything but my own exhaustion and disappointment at how much trouble this whole undertaking had been. It just didn’t seem worth it. The taste was average, and rather underwhelming considering the amount of work I had put into it. I might as well have just made a typical Trini sponge cake as I prefer the taste of that by far. My mother said that although she understood my disappointment, for anyone who ate it without knowing the backstory would just enjoy it purely on its own merits. J agreed, and his consumption of numerous slices was a slight salve. Two days later when I ate one of the last slices I was able to appreciate it more, and it really wasn’t bad. But I was looking for something more than ‘not bad’. This was entirely my own fault though. I really should have stuck to the basic version. Maybe one day I will try again, but not anytime in the future. I’m ready to clear the slate, start anew, and put this recipe behind me.
Don’t let my experience get you down. Most members of TWD had great success! Check out the recipe for yourself by visiting Liliana of My Cookbook Addiction or turning to pages 224-225 of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours