My six-layer birthday cake!
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The summer of cake

“Happy birthday Doris!”

This summer I took a creative non-fiction continuing education course at Langara College. For the last class the instructor thought it would be a nice idea if everyone brought an item of food to share with the class. I wanted to bring something nice so I went  to Maple Leaf Bakery on Davie St. in Vancouver as they sell excellent baked goods.

I looked in the glass display case and noticed a round chocolate mousse cake that had “Happy Birthday Doris!” written on the top.

 

Doris' cake underneath the glass
Doris’ cake underneath the glass

“Oh no, you probably want to get a blank one,” she says as she points to an identical cake right next to it. “I can write anything you like on this!”

“Well… I would like you to write ‘Happy Birthday Doris!’ then.”

And she did!

The class instructor thought it was a wonderfully random idea and at several times throughout the evening she toasted Doris. We don’t know who she is or where she lives but for one night at least, she was a friend to a class of engaged and inspired writers.

My cake in the class
My cake in the class

It was a delicious mousse cake with a chocolate crumble crust, iced in some kind of delicate chocolate coating, and topped with these Belgian chocolate wafers that are affixed to the cake with dollops of butter cream mocha icing.

It really has been been a summer of cake!

I had my birthday in late June and my neighbourhood friend Kate made all six layers of a mammoth rainbow cake. It was a work of art and a feat of engineering! How did it she keep it all together? Easy! Icing, eggs, and four knitting needles for good measure!

My six-layer birthday cake!
My six-layer birthday cake!

My friend Peter kindly drove me and the cake home and I somehow managed to keep it from tipping against the motions of the car or melting in the heat. I carefully cut it up into about 16 chunks which I kept in large casserole dishes in the fridge.

But apparently the cake gods thought I needed more!

The next morning I received an unexpected knock at the door. “Delivery for Nathaniel from Janean!” said the friendly delivery person who seemed about as happy to give me the cupcakes as I was to receive them. Of course, who wouldn’t love a job that entails handing free cake over to delighted strangers?

They came from Elwin at the amazing Bluebird Cakery in Vancouver.

My cake in the class
My cake in the class

The butter icing, I could tell, was prepared from quality ingredients which render a very pleasant taste and consistent texture. I enjoyed three flavours: red Velvet, creme brûlée, and Chocolate with salted caramel. They were all delicious but I enjoyed creme brûlée the most.

I lived with Janean in my second and her first year at Trent University in Peterborough. She moved out to British Columbia several years ago now and always been a thoughtful friend.

We exchange birthday cards every year and last year she fulfilled my lifelong dream of appearing on a postage stamp by mailing me this sheet of personalized Canada Post stamps:

Nathaniel's stamp!
Nathaniel’s stamp!

And last, but not least, are the cake and cupcakes served at a friend Lee’s wedding in Nanaimo last week.

The bride’s sister – my dear friend Stephanie – made three varieties of cupcakes including: sticky toffee double chocolate with salted caramel frosting, vanilla bean with vanilla butter cream frosting, and white chocolate coconut with coconut cream cheese frosting. The wedding cake itself was a chocolate gluten free cake with cream cheese frosting was made by the mother of the bride, Sandy whose experience as a professional wedding cake decorator shone through in this delicious work of art.

Lee's wedding cake
Lee’s wedding cake

More than cake, however, I cherish the happy memories of the wonderful people and celebratory events that seem to come along with it. I’m sure Doris can relate!

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