April 26th 2020 was my son's 20th birthday. It was hard to celebrate. The best thing we did was get him a birthday present which was a t-shirt on which were written the words "Coronavirus ruined my birthday."

He'd asked me to bake a cake for his birthday which was fine by me. I started getting to work on it in the morning only to discover there was no sugar in the house! Really there was no choice, I had to go to the store even though I'm trying to shop only once every 2 weeks. One thing that impressed me was that they have a guy sitting in the entry way holding up an iPad with a number on it; the number of people in the store. OK, probably the number of shoppers. Still it was nice to know that it wasn't super-crowded (I was #43).

It was only when I was mostly finished that I noticed the markings on the floor indicating the directions of the aisles! I may have violated them unwittingly. I'll know better next time.

Technically, I didn't bake him a cake!

I baked 2 cakes; one to have at home and one to take to his work the following day.

The one we had at home was an orange flavored yellow cake. I don't believe in box mixes, so this was made from scratch, mostly following a recipe from Judy Rosenberg's wonderful book "The All Butter, Fresh Cream, Sugar Packed, No Holds Barred, Baking Book". I made her sour cream golden layer cake, but added peel from a navel orange. I tried making an orange flavored version of the lemon custard as a filling between the two layers but can't have cooked it long enough as it never set fully. Oh well, it was nice to eat on its own. For the frosting, I switched to The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Berenbaum. I was going to make her Neoclassic Buttercream but that called for corn syrup which, you've guessed it, I didn't have any in the house. Instead I made the Classic Buttercream which just calls for sugar. Again, I flavored it with orange peel and a few drops of orange essence using the latter very sparingly as it can be bitter.

The second cake was much simpler; I'd found a nice recipe for a flourless chocolate cake with a mocha whipped cream frosting. According to my son, the cake was good, but next time, find a better frosting. I think if I do it again I'll make a chocolate ganache.

What did I learn?

  1. You can always do something to celebrate, even in the weird times we have now!
  2. Baking is easier than plumbing as it only needs one trip to the store, not four.