Slow Days: Favorite Birthday Cake  

INTRO: People who are new to Fasting often pose the questions: “Can I really eat ‘anything I want’ on a Slow Day?” and “What should I eat on Slow Days?” To answer those questions, I have decided to add some blog posts to show some of the foods we eat on what the world calls NFDs [non-fast days] but which, in our house, we call ‘Slow Days.’ This feature will appear sporadically. 

Now for the answers. Can you really eat ANYTHING you want on a Slow Day? Not really. If you eat too many calories every Slow Day, you will not lose weight. There are many questions asked on the FastDiet Forum which attest to that. Once in a while you can splurge, as long as it isn’t everyday. For what to eat on Slow Days, Dr. Mosley recommends a Mediterranean Diet. As for how we eat, an example follows.

When I was a child, the birthday cake that my mother always made for us was an angel food cake: white and towering, sweet, and fluffy, decorated with Royal Frosting. It was my ‘gold standard’ for birthday cake, even if it was made from a boxed mix. When Dear Husband took over the job of providing birthday cakes, he wanted to cook his dream cake: yellow layers with chocolate icing. For years the Darling Sons and Dear Husband made a series of layer cakes. Dear Husband had never made a sponge cake and was a bit spooked by the prospect. At last, I said, “I’d like this cake for my birthday — a hot water sponge cake from Fannie Farmer’s Cookbook.” He said, “OK, but with a chocolate ganache icing.” So we set to work to make it happen.

The mise en place, for a one-half version of the recipe

Hot Water Sponge Cake for a 9” springform pan. From Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

Heat oven to 350F. Have an ungreased 9” springform pan.
1 cup pastry/cake flour
1¼ tsp baking powder
few grains salt
Sift together and set aside.
2 egg whitesBeat into soft peaks
¼ c sugarBeat gradually into the egg whites and set aside.
2 egg yolks
¼ c hot water
½ tsp vanilla
Whisk the yolks. Add the water and vanilla, and beat until thick. The heat will cook the yolks a bit.
½ c sugarBeat into the eggs.

Now you have three bowls containing different components of the cake.

Pour the yolks over the whites and fold until blended.
Fold in the flour until blended.
Gently scrape batter into the unbuttered pan. Bake 20-30 mins. Cool cake in pan.

For whatever reason, the first time we prepared it, the cake turned out with a sunken center. Time to turn lemons into lemonade — or in this case, lemon curd. Determined to fill in that divot, I spooned some lemon curd [from a jar] into the center, pretending that it was part of the original plan.

Baked, cooled cake Remove the wrap-around part of the pan from the cake, but leave the cake on the metal plate that is underneath it. Place on a rack over a larger plate.
Lemon curdIf there is a low spot in the center of the cake, spoon in enough curd to fill it completely. If there is no low spot, top the cake with a thin, even layer of curd.

Then we made a Chocolate-Cream Ganache Glaze from the Cake Bible by Rose Levy Biranbaum.

3 oz bittersweet chocolate Break or chop or process into very small pieces. Put into a heat-proof bowl.
1 c. heavy creamPut into a saucepan and heat until starting to boil.
Pour ¾ c of cream over the chocolate, cover, and let sit 5 mins. Chocolate should melt. If it doesn’t or ganache is too thick, add more hot cream, tablespoon by tablespoon, and stir.

Pour the glaze over the center of the cake, guiding it a bit so that it covers the top and runs down the sides. Smooth any rough spots with a knife and place on a serving plate.

Here is a full recipe of the cake: on the cake stand, ready to be served to friends with Champagne at my birthday party.
You can see the lemon curd under the ganache. A marvelous contrast of flavors and textures.

After he sampled it, Dear Husband said, “I want this for my birthday too!” So we repeated it a month later. It is now our traditional favorite birthday cake. I hope you will like it too.

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