Brian turned 34 this past Saturday. Since there aren’t any obvious milestones associated with this birthday, I took it upon myself to christen it the “zinc anniversary” of his birth. ‘Cause zinc is cool and underappreciated. We wouldn’t have telephones without zinc!
It was a splendid day. We went out to rake leaves in the morning, and the kids serenaded us with their impromptu garage band:
Then we headed inside for homemade pumpkin spice doughnuts. These were YUMMY. Eleanor was especially rapturous about them. “Mom, I love these all the way up to my chin,” she said, gesturing with her hand. Then, a few minutes later: “Mom, I don’t think I can live without these doughnuts!” Nice to know the girl has her priorities straight.
I gave Brian a copy of Mario Kart Wii for his birthday, so he and the kids indulged and played it for most of the afternoon. Jeffrey was so excited that he couldn’t play it for more than thirty seconds at a time.
Then, in the evening, a party! Both sets of our parents were able to attend, along with a passel of friends. We had a scrumptious Italian feast, including my friend Laura’s excellent Pasta Bolognese.
For dessert (and as a second birthday present), I asked Brian to choose any cake from my favorite pastry cookbook, Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. He chose the Mystery Cake with Mystery Ganache. I made it just like the picture in the book — the exterior edge lined with Pirouettes and tipped with red icing. They look like birthday candles, right?
My mom said that watching me set the Pirouettes into the ganache coating was so sumptuous that I should think about hiring myself out to candy stores — to sit behind a plate glass window and press cookies into chocolate cakes in order to attract customers.
William helped Brian blow out the real candles:
Why is it called “Mystery” cake? Because of an unusual ingredient: condensed tomato soup. It’s in the cake batter and in the ganache. The citric acid deepens the flavor of the chocolate, and adds a subtle zing as well as extra moisture. Brian thought it the most intriguing — as well as delicious-looking — cake in the book. After tasting it, I heartily concur. Who knew something so humble as tomato soup could be so fantastic?