Sunday, February 7, 2010

Birthday Run, Birthday Cake. Birthday Snow?

Big weekend here in Mt. Airy. Not only did the sky decide to dump 2+ feet of snow on us, not only did Helen turn 27 (I think, something around that anyway), but we'd chosen this weekend as the time to run the 4 corners! But snow can mess around with plans.
It started its messing around with plans when we had to push Helen's b-day dinner up from Saturday, which isn't actually her birthday, to Friday, which is even less her birthday, so that her sisters could come visit without putting their lives at risk. We hoped. Fortunately, I'd chosen to bake her cake on Thursday. So I was all ready.
Ah yes. Cake.
This was the second time I've baked a cake. The other was, also, for Helen's birthday. That one was a little more straightforward, and I'd still needed Betty's help. But I've had a cake-making dream for some time now. I wanted to make a topsy-turvy cake.
I've never actually seen one of these cakes in person. I've seen a bunch on the interwebs, though – and they rock! You bake the cakes at angles, kind of (well, not really, more below) and pile them on top of each other. When professional bakers do it, it winds up looking something like this:

(photo courtesy of

Mine didn't *quite* reach that level.

I wasn't willing to mess around with fondant, and didn't want to bake too much cake. This is still four cakes worth of cake!
As for the make-up, the bottom is devil's food cake, from a recipe from the King Arthur Flour cookbook. The top levels are all Trader Joe's vanilla cake mix, though. That's quite a shortcut, I know, but it still took a while. I made the outside icing myself. Between the lower layers, I put in a – wait for it – milk chocolate peanut butter ganache, also homemade. The top levels just have blackberry jam.

The neatest part, though, is shaping the cake. You don't actually bake cakes at angles. You bake normal cakes, and then you cut them at angles. From there, you pile them up so that one side is thicker than the next.

Then, for the next level, you dig out a hole, so that it actually sits on a flat surface.

Ta da!

Icing it was the hard part. I'm horrible at icing cakes.

Anyway, Friday night's dinner was great. Betty and Agnes came over, we had tomatoes (one of Helen's favorites), pasta with pesto, and eggplant parmesan. For dessert, we had apple pie ice cream. Oh, and cake! (Did I mention that there was cake?)
Between the four of us, I think we ate around 1/8 of the cake.

Then, of course, the sky let loose. Two feet of snow. Powdery stuff, too. Not easy to walk in, let alone run in.
Sunday – Helen's birthday – was the day that we chose to run the four corners.
The original crowd was going to be a bit bigger. Phil was going to come for some of the run, but decided instead to play with his new cross country skis. Bob was going to come, but he's stuck in Vegas. That left for of us – Pete, Leo, Helen and myself.
The last time Helen and I ran the four corners, we took 3 ½ hours. Our thought, this time, was that if it looked like it would take us more than five hours, we'd stick to just two corners.
We didn't even make it that far.
Helen's calling it the "Slowest. 12 miles. Ever." and she might have something. I'm sore in places I didn't expect to be – but, fortunately, not sore in places I did expect to be. Like, for instance, my kneecap, which I fell and banged, feels fine. My calves, though, are as sore as I can remember them ever being.
This is the route we wound up running:

Slowest 12 miles ever, perhaps, but that's also because it was the hardest 12 miles ever.
Sometime soon, I want to run the 4 corners again. Today wasn't the day. But, as Leo said during the run, it was also one of the funnest runs. So few people on the trails, so many great views. It's nice to be able to take advantage of this weather when it comes around.
After we got back, Leo and Pete came over for cake.

No comments: