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Exploring, creating, & reflecting one day at a time

It was the second half of my Rachel-ness’s birthday two weeks ago.  Unfortunately, after a week of midterms & essays, I had to fly home for a funeral so I wasn’t there for her celebration weekend.  Then came last weekend, the weekend of Cal Day.  After so much stress, it was a much needed break from the grind and my good friend Nicole came up from LA to spend the weekend in Berkeley, having had a stressful week as well.

After the festivities of Cal Day and watching the Dodos perform on the steps of Doe Library, not to mention a sneaky sunburn from the surprisingly beautiful weather that day, Sunday’s less-than-ideal cloudiness wasn’t that off-putting.

 I think we all needed some rest anyway. So I set out to bake Rachel’s belated birthday cake, something I had thought about for a couple weeks and I came up with this: a four layered chocolate cake filled with mocha buttercream and covered in chocolate ganache.

I ran into Brandt in the kitchen (surprise) baking some cookies of his own (surprise) for a volunteer thing and mixed up the cake batter & threw it in the oven.  Well, actually, it wasn’t that easy.  The recipe calls for a cup of fresh brewed, strong coffee.  With my high-strung personality and heart problem, I’m not much of a coffee drinker so I had some trouble trying to figure out the right proportions of beans to water in Gina’s percolator.  I ended up running the coffee through twice (which is a lot harder than it probably sounds because I had to cool the first run of coffee off before the percolator would filter the second batch).  But in the end it worked out and the rounds did get put into the oven.  I took them out and let them cool as Nicole, Nick, Rachel, Vicky, Al & I headed over to Holi–a crazy paint war, basically.  The cool weather was not appreciated at this point in the day, as a friend tackled me into a kiddie pool filled with murky painty water, but it was still really fun.

After an intense shower (2, actually) that wasn’t able to remove all the paint, I gave up and went back to working on the cake.  I cut the standard 9-inch rounds in half to make the 4 layers and whipped up the buttercream, which came out better than expected. The coffee cut the sweetness nicely. The only problem was that I was a WEE bit short on buttercream, so I ended up just spreading out what I had as far as it would go.  I don’t think you could really tell in the final product.

I refrigerated the cakes (now with a thin crumb-layer of buttecream coating the outside) before covering the whole thing in chocolate ganache–which, for those who don’t know, is a godly mixture of cream and bittersweet chocolate.  It’s what’s in the middle of truffles.  But spread all over the cake.  Yeah. Delicious.

Now, let me take a second to say that everybody has their off days.  In terms of decoration/presentation, this day was an off day for me.  There was a mishap with the strawberries getting frozen from being too close to the freezer compartment of our mini-fridge and another problem with melting the white chocolate I was using to ice a giant “R” on the top of the cake with.

did I mention it was also an off-day for my photography?

At any rate, Rachel enjoyed it I think and I got some good feedback from her housemates (there are 12 of them!!) and Rach said the cake was pretty much gone by the end of the day.

Anywho, I’m hoping to enjoy these last couple of weeks before finals roll around.  Aside from having projects in all of my engineering classes due this week, it looks like this semester is winding down nicely.  Next week: ASUC food contest! Still deciding what to make….


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