rosie beaucoup’s birthday and a tale of three cakes

As always, much of the weekend was spent in the kitchen. The pantry was stocked, menus were planned, and I made three birthday cakes.

Yup. Three.

Rosie Beaucoup had a birthday on the weekend. I wanted to make the perfect cake for her. A perfect two-layer yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I did a lot of research. Compared recipes, ruled out suspicious combinations of ingredients. Hours of pondering and planning. Finally, I settled upon Smitten Kitchen‘s Best Birthday Cake. I was super excited. I made it after an eight hour day at the studio, and when I took the pans out of the oven, it all looked perfect. The cake tester came out clean, the cakes were slightly firm to the touch, and the colour was lovely. I put them on the counter to cool.

When I returned an hour later, the centres had collapsed. The cakes were undercooked. Raw inside. How? Why had the cake tester lied? Why, for the love of all that’s good and pure, why? Such a rookie mistake. So, at 10:30 pm, I began the process again. I would not let my mother down. The butter and eggs had to be brought to room temperature, so by the time the second cakes came out of the oven it was about 1 am. I could hardly hold my eyes open.

Cake #2 was horrid. Too thick and dry. A cornbreadesque disaster. Part of one layer was left in the pan leaving it misshaped and deformed. I tried to piece the darn thing together, but it just made it angry. The first cake was my fault – I had undercooked it. It could happen to anyone. But the second cake? What the? I’ve baked many an awesome treat in my kitchen; I’m no baking virgin. So I threw a dishtowel over the mess and crawled into bed feeling like a total failure.

The next morning I woke feeling over-tired and nauseous. Too little sleep and two failed cakes will do that to you. I emailed Rosie to tell her that the cakes I had baked the evening before were a flop. I told her that I would try to salvage Cake #2, but it wasn’t looking good. I was exhausted and frazzled. And since we planned to spend the day eating, drinking and playing games at her house, I told her that I would, in all likelihood, be baking Cake #3 at her house.

So that’s what I did. When 2.0 and I arrived at Beaucoup Headquarters, failed Cake #2 in hand and the ingredients for Cake #3 packed in my bag, Rosie Beaucoup brought out her no-fail recipe for the perfect yellow cake. We had it as children, and probably hadn’t had it since. I made it. A one-bowl, easy to make, perfect yellow cake. It was lovely. I had a recipe from Smitten Kitchen for a fudge icing. Yes, despite being royally p*ssed about the failed cake, I made Smitten’s Instant Fudge Icing, and it was perfect too. I will post the recipes this week.

So Rosie’s birthday went like this: buttermilk pancakes, gourmet sausages, mimosas and fruit for breakfast. After baking Cake #3 (herein, movita’s Perfect Birthday Cake), and taking a short trip out and about, we ate lobster, meatloaf, salad, and ramekins of whipped potatoes for dinner. For dessert, movita’s Perfect Birthday Cake, of course. And then a board game around the dining table before heading home to our cozy bed.




  1. heather cutten on April 18, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Persistent aren’t you….good for you. I am waiting for the recipe for that cake though…sounds good.

  2. Ignorant Bystander on April 18, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    sniff. Such pathos. And yet something is missing. I found the following excerpt on a yellowed scrap of parchment lost inside the cover of this blog post:

    “…but not before scarfing down the dismembered remains of Cake #2 while standing at the kitchen island in our PJs.”

    When writing about food (or erotica: tomatoe / tomato), you really should work in a happy ending.

  3. emmalina73 on April 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    You are a dedicated and wonderful child. I think I will adopt you so that you can make me birthday cakes. I have 7 birthdays a year, just like a lizard. It’s a british thing.

    Happy birthday to your mum!

    • movita on April 19, 2011 at 10:33 am

      Man, I wish I was British.

  4. Rosie Beaucoup on April 18, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    And Rosie Beaucoup is deeply grateful for a daughter willing to try three times to produce a lovely birthday cake.

    • movita on April 19, 2011 at 10:33 am

      I learned from the best…

  5. Susan L. on April 18, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    I would have skipped the cakes and gone straight for the lobster! Happy birthday to auntie.

  6. maudiemaudie on April 19, 2011 at 7:22 am

    um, ahem …… cough, my birthday is in January, could you, would you ……..
    never had lobster before (sob, sniffle).
    Your persistence is admirable. Personally after I’d eaten the second attempt I’d have nipped down to one of the lovely French Patisseries and bought a beautiful gooey confection.

    • movita on April 19, 2011 at 10:34 am

      You’ve never had lobster? Mother of pearl! You haven’t lived, woman. You’ve gotta do something about that. Seriously. It’s very important.

  7. movita beaucoup on September 7, 2015 at 7:46 am

    Comments are now closed on this post – it was published in 2011!