First, thank you to all of you for your very sweet birthday wishes – I'm consistently amazed and touched by the well-wishes I receive from fellow pastry lovers from around the world. Thank you for making my birthday that much more special!
It actually did rain on my birthday, but it seems like the birthday fairies decided to make up for it by sending a stretch of luxuriously balmy weather afterwards, capping off with a positively scorching weekend. Mmm, I can almost feel summer around the corner!
Sadly, I've been quite busy this last week, so haven't had much time to enjoy the weather except to keep drinking water to try and stay hydrated. I also haven't had the chance to properly document my latest kitchen brainstorm, so here, finally, are a few pictures.
Since it's full-on strawberry season (overflowing their baskets at the farmers' markets, beckoning from roadside stands in the suburbs), I am constantly being tempted into buying way too strawberries and then trying to figure out what to do with them. I remembered this cake I had seen in a Hong Kong bakery, layers of delicate sponge cake sandwiching fluffy strawberry cream and frosted with whipped cream, and decided to have a go at recreating it.
The result ended up resembling a cross between an opera cake and the layered fruit-and-whipped cream cakes found in many a Chinese bakery. The cake, an almond genoise, is the same as the one used in a traditional opera cake. Spread thinly with pureed strawberries, and then a layer of strawberry buttercream, the light cake provides the perfect base for intense strawberry flavor. The topping is made from whipped cream and just a little confectioners' sugar, since I didn't want a heavy frosting to weigh down the cake.
I think this cake really captures a lot of strawberry flavor, without being too rich or heavy – just right for summer. I'm still tweaking the recipe, so I'll try to get posted here sometime tomorrow.
And, as a capper to the week, I discovered that the fantabulous Jen of Use real butter, one of my favorite blogs, was in town! After some furious planning, we arranged a blogger meetup with me, Jen, and Lisa of I Must Have a Lot of Time on My Hands, another amazingly talented cook/baker/blogger that I adore!
Lisa was kind enough to play hostess, so Jen and I got to visit Lisa's place, meet her beyond adorable doggie Lucca (honestly, go to her page and once you lay eyes on Lucca you will be smitten), and sample Lisa's excellent coffee cake and macarons. This girl can seriously bake! Thanks so much Lisa, and I'm hoping to return the favor soon!
Jen is just as funny and real as she is on her blog – I feel super lucky that I found her blog, and got to become friends with such a great person! Hope you had a great flight back home, sweetie!
Lisa has already put up an account of the meetup on her blog, so go read if you want to see what three foodies were up to one Saturday morning! It was definitely the panacea to cure a long week of work, and now I'm ready to bake up some more sweets again!