weddings are for cakes

At the end of August, our friends and fellow German Canadian couple got hitched. Because of one of globalizations many obstacles, – large families, different continents, and high air fairs – they got hitched old fashioned style. It was the kind of wedding Vegas would approve of, city hall, sneakers, and an official with an undercut and a ponytail. It was both practical and whimsical, a wedding to make modern romance proud.
There was to be no wedding fuss, no white dress, nothing too traditional, minimal fuss, just sushi and friends. It made sense, well almost. The myth of white dresses was killed long ago with Frederick Engels “The Man, the State, and Private Property”. He took apart the romance of family be revealing that the origin of the word family referred to how many slaves one man owned, thus reminding us that marriage started out concerning property and not love. However, Engels never mentioned anything negative about the cake. I mean, really, isn’t the whole point of getting married is justifying buying/baking/eating a multiple layer cake that is more intricately sculpted than any piece by Rodin? Well, as a foodie my answer is yes. I may not believe in marriage, but I do believe in cake.
My friend Alice and I quickly decided that a cake was absolutely necessary and that we would be the ones to bake up the surprise. It was a two day task, one that was made enjoyable by the licking of spoons, eating of the extra blackberries, and the excitement knowing that nobody was expecting a cake.
We decided on a blackberry-raspberry spice cake with orange-ginger cream cheese frosting. Despite our fear that the cake would be too dry, or that the berries would drown the cake into a purple pile of icing, it was an edible masterpiece.
The masterpiece was inspired by a recipe from Epicurious. With a few little changes, we baked this baby with love and topped it off with our hand-made wedding topper of two birds. Our card was a strip of photobooth pictures (I really meant it when I said that it is an addiction) saying “Eat this”.
The cake was not only a big surprise, but also a big hit. When something tastes good and makes people smile (the bride said it was the most beautiful wedding cake she had ever seen), you know it was worth it.
So, if you have any future weddings or celebrations or you simply feel like spending the weekend baking and eating a wedding cake (which I might very well do now that the weather has turned bad), here is the recipe.
Spice Cake with Blackberry-Raspberry Filling and Orange-Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting
(Insert breath after such a long title)
For Cake:
2 cups cake flour
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
½ cup/1 stick butter
1 ½ cups (packed) brown sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1 cup
Crème fraîche
For Filling:
¼ cup sugar
2 pint baskets of blackberries
2 pint baskets of raspberries
For Frosting:
1 ½ 8 ounce packages of cream cheese
¾ cup/1 ½ sticks butter
5 cups powdered sugar
2 tblsp. Crème fraîche
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-2 tblsp. Fresh grated ginger
3-5 tblsp., or to taste, Fresh orange juice
Leftover/more blackberries and raspberries to decorate the cake
Preheat oven to 200°C/350°F. Butter cake pans. Mix together dry ingredients (except for sugar). With an electric beater, beat butter. Once fluffy, add brown sugar and continue to beat until well blended. Beat in egg yolks and then, alternatively, beat in dry ingredients and Crème fraîche (in about 2-3 additions). In a separate bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold egg whites into batter and then transfer cake batter into the buttered pans.
Bake cake for about 45 minutes or until a knife comes out of the center clean. The colour should be a golden brown. Put on a rack to cool. Window sills come in handy for this part.
While cake is baking, mix berries and sugar and mash with a fork. For best results, the mixture should then be put in the fridge to set. This will prevent it from leaving purple traces on the white icing. We left the mixture in the fridge over night.
For the frosting, beat together cream cheese and butter. Once fluffy beat in sugar, crème fraîche, vanilla, fresh ginger, and orange juice.
Once the cake has cooled, cut cake horizontally into layers. We doubled the recipe, baked two cakes and then cut each cake in half. If you have a sturdy hand when it comes to knives, then you can try cutting the cake horizontally into three. Place bottom piece of cake on a plate and then cover with frosting. Place berry filling on top of frosting. Stick to the middle and do not venture too close to the edge in order to prevent leaking berries. Top with second piece of cake and repeat. Once cake is assembled with frosting and berries, cover this baby up with the cream cheese frosting that is left over from creating the layers and from the licking of spoons.
Refrigerate until frosting sets. For the finale, garnish with berries, mint leaves, cardboard drawings, photographs, et cetera.
Proceed with caution. This is a dangerously delicious cake.


o' cardboard tree, o' cardboard tree,

your leaves are so industrial.

When we were subletting, the apartment was overruled by white walls and cardboard boxes. The previous tenant was in between cities, in between moves and, therefore, left us with a small mountain of cardboard boxes. After being surrounded by their company each time I were to lie on the couch or eat at the table, I decided to steal one.

I kidnapped one of the cardboard boxes in an effort to transform it into something less dire to look at. After all, nothing says temporary like a pile of boxes, a poster of a naked woman, and masking tape.

I was inspired by
Scandinavia's latest love child, the silhouette of a tree. Trees have been showing up in design from hooks to wallpaper to bed sheets. This muse with leaves isn't restricted to Scandinavia though. Lola and Emily, a boutique in Montreal that I would happily give all of my money to if I had some in exchange for pretty dresses and mens styled dress shirts, used trees as a starting point for decoration. The store is designed to hide the fact that it is a store. It is modeled after a shared apartment of two women, Lola and Emily, both with unique senses of style. This translates into a boutique that uses beds and wardrobes instead of clothing racks. The decorations change and at one point one of the beds wore a white bed spread dressed in the black silhouette of a tree. Flanking the bed were tall wood carvings of more tree silhouettes.

With cardboard instead of wood and scissors instead of a saw, I set out to craft my own tree silhouette. Last month it kept the kitchen table company. Now that we have no kitchen table, it hangs out next to the bed.

The cardboard boxes and any obvious traces of the previous tenant have been packed into a rental van and moved to
Hamburg. The cardboard tree is what is left, a nice wall hanging of sorts that links how the apartment was to how it now is.


the art of roughing it

I am sitting on the floor of our new, well new-old, apartment, with my bum propped up on a pillow and my head against the kitchen door. The other rooms yet to have lights and although the light is brighter in the bathroom the noise of the ceiling fan began to get on my nerves.

After investigating twelve or so other potential homes, we ended up back where we started, heimstrasse, fitting really since Heim in German means home.

The next few weeks will be centered around decorating this place as if it were a Christmas tree, but first I am learning how to live without a fridge. I always thought that I was too bourgeois to be able to feel calm about not having a fridge. To be honest, I wasn’t at first. “I don’t care if we don’t have a bed, but a fridge, a fridge, how could we possibly live without a fridge?”

Well if one drinks green tea in the mornings instead of coffee with milk or eats quinoa with apples and walnuts instead of orange granola with milk, it really isn’t that difficult. I am actually quite enjoying this. The lack of fridge, lights, and furniture is rubbing up against my creative side. All I need is space to create, not things standing in that space. With all distractions removed I am left free to focus on the ceiling, on the floor, and the relationship that I create between the two.

Toby is moving all of our furniture that has been taking some time off from Switzerland back to Germany. I guess it is inevitable that we fill up this space, but I am glad that I have gotten to know it a bit better in its purest form before it is cluttered with cardboard trees, bookshelves, and herb plants.

He isn’t bringing back a fridge though, so I do have a little more time to play with the immediacy of food, as opposed to keeping it cool until one is ready.

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