Thursday, July 21, 2011

Slice of cake at Yellow Door triggers 25-year memory

Every taste tells a story or, at the very least, generates a feeling… such as a memory or feeling of pure delight, interest, disappointment, nonchalance and -- best of all -- romance. In June, amid chatter and enjoyment of a Chef Craig Common-cooked breakfast at Yellow Door, a vivid memory jolted to life.

At the invitation of Yellow Door Volunteer Marie, Brighton resident Joanne Daniels attended the June breakfast. It just so happened that Chef Paul Cousins baked a special cake in honor of Janice Ortbring’s birthday. Being the generous soul that she is, Janice shared her cake with Yellow Door guests, who embraced the idea of cake as the perfect ending to this delicious breakfast.

The cake surprised many for its layer after layer of flavors. Personally, I’m a simple chocolate cake kind of a girl, so when I tasted the birthday cake, I was amazed at the density and flavors that danced on my palate. After a few bites, Joanne expressed to Marie that the cake reminded her of a cake she tasted more than 25 years ago at the wedding of her friends Dave and Nancy McKenzie. It was quickly discovered that Paul, former restaurateur and pastry chef extraordinaire, made this cake only twice in his life – the only other time at Dave and Nancy’s wedding at Greenfield Village. So, of course, we had to share this story!

Paul shared that that the recipe for this Heritage Cake first appeared in a Betty Crocker cookbook in the early 1900s. Paul found the recipe around 1970 and was intrigued with its complexity and history as a wedding cake. It was intentionally crafted as a dense cake – a pound cake with layers of dates, raspberries, apricots, plums and cranberries – for transportation by wagon over rough terrain. When Nancy asked Paul to make a cake – any cake -- for her intimate wedding to Dave, Paul finally had his opportunity to craft this laborious cake – and what a memorable cake! An all day effort, the cake is topped with silky, coffee buttermilk icing after each layer is carefully crafted.

Janice's birthday inspired Paul to make the cake for the second time. Lucky girl! And, lucky us!


Edgar Norman Creative said...

So lovely! A treasured story for all of us!!!

larka said...

Thank you for sharing that wonderful story! I was lucky enough to taste the cake at Yellow Door - it was sublime! And thank you to Janice tor sharing!

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