There are just some people in this world that make your heart happy when you are in their company. For me, one such person is Winifred Clifton.
Winnie was my neighbour when I lived in Northampton and a few years ago we struck up a friendship over conversations of cakes and baking. We both love to don our aprons and fill our kitchen with the heavenly aroma of home baked goods! Winnie's specialities are rock cakes, jam tarts and her deliciously moist and plump fruit cake. Good, old-fashioned baking that literally comforts the soul which, incidentally, is exactly what Winnie does herself.
She is a calm, kind spirit with a lifetime of wisdom behind those twinkling eyes. Unassuming, modest, humble and always willing to lend an ear. And I've borrowed that willing ear on more than one occasion!
Taking our firm friendship and love of cake into account it I felt it only right to ensure that my dear friend had a super-de-duper birthday cake to mark her special day. So three years ago, for Winnie's 84th birthday, I did just that and have continued to do so ever since. Each year, when I present Winnie with her cake she never fails to exclaim: "You shouldn't have spent all that time on me!" And each year I tell her to hush and blow out the candles. It's the very least she deserves.
The first cake I ever made for Winnie, a triple layer sweet and salty chocolate cake OOOOOZING with salted caramel. Like the look of it? You can get the recipe HERE!
Winnie certainly liked the look of it and couldn't quite believe how heavy it was! Heavy in the hand, perhaps, but surprisingly light in the mouth and did I already mention that is was oooooozing with salted caramel?? The birthday girl blew out her candles with gusto and made a cheeky wish of course.
Conclusion? The sweet and salty chocolate cake was a resounding HIT!
THIS recipe caught my eye as I was flicking through Eric Lanlard's cookbook Chocolat. I knew Winnie enjoyed the combination of chocolate and fruit and as such it was a no-brainer. My own little modification was to make it a triple layered cake rather than a doubler. I mean, why have two layers when you can have three?? Each layer was sandwiched together with a generously thick layer of chocolate buttercream. I then poured silky dark chocolate ganache over the top layer before adding the finishing touches to this little French inspired beauty: succulent fresh berries and a light dusting of icing sugar.
Another winner as you can probably tell by the rather large wedge that Winnie and I instantly devoured!
Parting from chocolate cake is such sweet sorrow but for Winnie's birthday last Friday I felt it was time for a change in flavour. But what to choose with the literally hundreds of options available?
I had seen pictures of Rainbow cakes on blogs and on Pinterest and found them very attractive and appealing. Winnie's 86th birthday provided me with the perfect opportunity to try one for myself and you know what? I think I did good!
Winnie certainly thought so and was quite speechless when I marched the six layer rainbow cake into the room accompanied by a very off tune and screechy rendition of Happy Birthday. (See video below for evidence of Winnie's speechlessness and the GW's screechiness).
I think the Rainbow Cake may even have trumped the sweet and salty chocolate cake in terms of poundage since poor Winnie urged me to take the pictures with haste as her wrists were beginning to ache!
I must admit that I was anxious to cut into it because I had absolutely no idea what lay within. Sure, the outside looked pretty nifty but the interior could be a different story entirely. So you can imagine my relief when the first slice was removed to reveal
A veritable kaleidoscope of colour, creamy buttercream and crunch!
And I hope you don't think I'm boasting when I say that it tasted every bit as good as it looked. Well, that's what Winnie said in any case and as a cake making veteran with over sixty years of experience we should be inclined to trust her judgement and tastebuds. :)
As for the recipe, that is to be the subject of Friday's blog so make sure you check back!
So there we have it. Three special cakes for one very special lady who isn't averse to a birthday selfie.
A very, very Happy 86th Birthday to my dear friend Winnie. Thank you for making my heart happy.
GW, over and out.
NOTE: If you have any problems accessing the video from your device just click HERE and it will take you straight to YouTube.