Wednesday, March 3, 2010

when the occasion calls for it

Milestones are important - and 5 decades is well worth celebrating! Janna, my one and only sister, lives 2 hours north and will be marking this milestone with a wonderful gathering very soon. What is a birthday without a cake and reaching 50 requires something perhaps a little elegant, certainly not ordinary. Some of these finds below I think would be easier to paint than the gesture on my part at this stage is more fantasy than fact.  I have been known to employ artistic skills in the kitchen - at times to good effect.... other times...dont ask!
So what inspiration did I find this afternoon?
This good old aussie standard below - the ubiquitous 'lamington' is something I might have created 40 years ago
Lamington Image
When going 'all out' one would have added the cream layer - very sophisticated!
I never did get round to making the infamous 'pavlova' which provokes a debate between Oz and NZ as to where it originated.
Rural Intelligence Food Section Image
I've looked beyond the good old standards - with my sister in mind. Of course I shall have to see which of these the birthday girl herself fancies - (please let it be the chocolate and pistachio...I could manage that!) I recall she loved cheesecake a long time ago. She was smart and married a very good cook. She's smart in many ways actually! 
Below is a bouquet - edible of course - from an legendary Sydney Cake shop SWEET ART that specialises in exotica. This is rather a quiet offering - I well remember walking past their Paddington shopfront years ago and seeing some remarkable constructions -  perfect for a locale full of galleries and a plethora of culturally diverse venues!
The blood orange cheesecake actually looks sensational thanks to Martha - that colour!
Another Martha number - 'darkest chocolate layer cake' that LOOKS pretty memorable!
Nigellas Lemon Meringue cake is looking good...lemon is one of those brilliant flavours - this looks like a grown up's pavlova really.
From Gourmet traveller, an excellent foodie magazine from Australia comes this Cassata below.
The afore mentioned Chocolate Pistachio cake from Martha
The finale - Martha's Carrot and Ginger cake is rather an elegant statement! Baking is definitely a skilled pursuit... especially when venturing out on a limb to create something magical! I think 5-0 calls for some magic!

H a p p y   5 0 t h    B i r t h d a y   J a n n a  x o


Dragonfly said...

Ooooh - I'm drooling. I think I'd enjoy everything you have featured. I wonder what you'll make???!

Thanks so much for recommending my lanterns to your sister! I can't wait to see the pictures of them afterwards. Enjoy yourselves - I'm sure its gonna be one great party :-)
Cheers, Karen

Jo Horswill said...

Great post Sophie...happy birthday to your sis...and I love every cake here...but the lamingtons steal my heart!

Sophie Munns said...

Hi Karen (dragon fly),
I should take a tip from your blog re sister LOVES all things cakes...
you posted on them awhile back...I seem to recall very bright colours.
Will takes photos with the lanterns to send you for sure!
I shall pass on your good wishes,
see you,

Sophie Munns said...

Hi Jo,
hey... I can cook lamingtons... and they are good aren't they! I prefer them made with a buttery cake ...not sponge which is too light and airy! Make them small maybe ...but good!
Thanks so much for the warm birthday wishes...will happily pass that on.

Altoon Sultan said...

What a lovely post; happy birthday to your sister!

I made a Pavlova for the first time, for friends, last summer when Vermont strawberries were ripe. I loved it, and it was so easy to prepare. It's a nice change from the traditional strawberry shortcake.

Sophie Munns said...

Hello Altoon,
How wonderful that you have tried the pav and I have not managed one in all these years.It is good I agree!

I'm a fan of cakes with loads of nuts, spices or fruit like plums, nectarine and so on.

I'm sure my sister will enjoy the birthday greetings....all the way from thankyou!
ps I noticed your lovely blueberry cobbler you baked the other day. Looked delicious!

dosfishes said...

Magic cakes indeed, not a one that wouldn't be fit for a queen.

Sophie Munns said...

Hello Dosfishes!
never too old for cake...especially at birthday time! Queen for a day?
Thanks for your lovely thought this morning which is waiting for me to get to!

Lorena said...

great post. Those cakes are works of art. At times like these I wish I was a painter, I would paint them, How nice to be able to share your sisters birthday together

Mlle Paradis said...

Hi Sophie! Thanks for stopping by with nice little comments! I was away last week and now this one staycationing with Mr. One-and-Only. I have some gouaches going and always intending to paint. But that whole subject requires a longish post. I feel slightly embarassed even having brought the concept to the "world's" attention.

I'd much rather now discuss CAKE! I see you are a Martha fan too. That deep chocolate layer cake looks DELISH and easy enough to make. And I'm with you, I've always thought that cake with the carrot ribbons was so inspired. I did make a Martha pistachio cake with bavarian cream one year for Xmas Eve dinner. That MIGHT have been the last cake I've ever made because it was SO labor intensive.

But it's nice to dream. I know you'll come up with something really nice for your sister. I just hope you won't have to travel with it (now I'm reminded of another cake debacle).

Thanks for letting me stop by and have a little natter! Hope your work is going well! xoxo

Sophie Munns said...

Mlle Paradis,
you always put a smile on my face! Little natters I like! Work is going well... crazy, busy, non-stop in many directions just now, but well!
Dont apologise for bringing your work forward... who isn't a little or very self-conscious really. That's human...blogging works as a vehicle to help us get used to getting on with being and doing that which is our thing to do. Just think - all these bloggers around the globe who maybe felt their various preoccupations were not common or universal... or their take on things of relevance or interest to anyone. We gravitate to others in the blogosphere who are interested and fine with things we might not otherwise share.
Who'd have thought i'd be talking to a Hawaiian painter of Chinese descent who's similarly into eclectica and also fancies something as out there as Martha's cake with carrot ribbons!
The funny thing of doing this post is my sister might not even want one of these cakes as she has been taking great pleasure in designing a party with a oriental theme and all her creative flair will no doubt include a cake. I just loved the fantasy of imagining what would be a suitably grand cake for her birthday given 50 is so special!!
I think you may have better sculptural capacity than I... some of these require that!
I made a orange and chocolate layer cake several birthdays ago that made it to the table in one pice...looked extraordinarily grand...was made with the most fab varlhona(?) chocolate and then before the candles were alight started a slide to the east! It was caught just in the nick of time!!
S xoxo

Sophie Munns said...

Hello Lorena,
They are a visual treat worthy of being painted! I'm in love with that blood orange colour - and being jelly the transparency and look of it!
There's a small delay between birthday and party...but I'm sure it will be delightful!
thanks for visiting!

Sophie Munns said...

6th March -
"thank you Sophie and thank you everybody for your kind birthday wishes.... Sculptural cakes and desserts always appeal to me and the little Frangipani number
particulary suits out Sub-tropical Queensland lifestyle but... for 60 people? I look forward to it whatever the outcome.

Sophie Munns said...

Aha Janna.... you have picked the most accomplished artistic cake of the lot... it is right for the garden party though - quite perfect!
Now ... to see if the rain will stay away in time for the garden to dry out....such a lot of things to think about. I'm sure it will be quite magical inside or will put my thinking cap on.

Can I cheat and put actual frangipanis on top of whatever I can concoct? I saw some beautiful magenta coloured petals the other day.

Oh dear ...I have set the bar high ... it will be fun to come up with something - it may not be Martha or Nigella perfect- but it will still make a statement (she says timidly!)! The sculptural part may need to be left to the end on arrival. Hint taken Mlle Paradis - we dont want a disaster on Highway 103 or whatever the road is!

Thanks Janna... 7 sleeps till party time (get some sleep wont you!)
Sophia xxx

Dragonfly said...

Hi Sophie,
You could make a pav and decorate with dragonfruit (my fave Vietnamese fruit)!! We actually bought some dragonfruit at Woollies 2 weeks ago. A miracle :-)
Cheers, Karen

Sophie Munns said...

Hi Karen,

The dragon-fruit is an inspired idea!
Which reminds me I was shown an Elephants Apple tree yesterday at the Gardens. Have you seen these?

As for the Pavlova you know... i am a complete novice there. Unheard of I know in these parts!

Stay tuned to see how I get around this...!
hope you are enjoying the cooler, if wetter weather Karen!
thanks for a great thought!

Four Seasons in a Life said...

Dear Sophie,

I truly enjoyed this post. Your light hearted skill with words and the selection of pictures has me wanting to rush out to the nearest bakery, but wait, it is almost two in the morning - they are all closed.

I love to bake and not out of he box mind you. So maybe tomorrow if I have the energy, I might make a European coffee cake to go along with an afternoon cup of tea.

I hope hat your sister enjoyed her 50th. Tell her from now on we only celebrate the decades and let the years just slip on by.

Wishing you all the very best,

Sophie Munns said...

Hi Egmont,
lovely to hear from you after a week I'm sure you will be glad to have behind you.
I'm pleased if this brought a little cheer and the thought to go European coffee cake tomorrow afternoon. I'm impressed and wish an invitation were possible... tea and cake... wonderful indeed when cooked from scratch. Something tells me you come from a long line of accomplished cooks.
Janna's party is next weekend and I will pass on your thoughts!
May this week bring sunshine your way!

em said...

how lovely! i can't wait to see the cake! frangipani is one of my favorite things! i can't thank you enough for directing my attention to cakes!

Sophie Munns said...

If you bake one now after reading this do tell us what it is.In all that crazy weather you've been happening I can imagine an excellent cake and tea would be like a spot of sun in the gloom.

I have created expectations I can see....this is very daunting. I suspect my cake offering will be be relying on its dressing up to create the glam - rather than anything else.

I have the clever Mlle Paradis watching who can actually pull off those fancy cakes by Martha and Egmont with his german baking expertise also watching. Who knows the expertise of my other visitors...Dont tell me you studied pastry in NY before you had a child or something Em!

No.... its all fun!
see you!

em said...

no, i don't know anything special about cakes... i'm looking for an expert to make them for me!

Sophie Munns said...

Good thinking Em!
Hope you had a 4th anniversary cake for your blog!

nevin said...

My dear Sophie,
I love every cake here!! I can't stop looking them!! They so yummy:)

Sophie Munns said...

Oh Nevin,
Maybe someone will make one for your celebration when you move into your new studio... should that be on the cards!
Its true most people look a good piece of cake... hard to pass by!
Thanks for visiting...