evany's extended cake mix
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Monday, Jun. 02, 2003 | link
I don't know if you've ever had Swedish princess cake, but it's this insane thing, white cake and sweet whipped cream and raspberry jam, all coated in a miraculous, impossibly smooth dome of marzipan. (Do they drape a flat sheet of marzipan -- which is stiff, like play-doh -- over the layers then cut darts and melt away the seams? Or do they build the whole cake upside-down, pressing the marzipan into a mold and then dropping in the layers of cake and cream? I don't know! Do you know?) And since the marzipan is usually hot pink or searing green, princess cakes not only taste great, they look other-worldly awesome.
Sweet Lady Jane in LA makes a great one, and Draeger's has the best that I've found in the Bay Area. Even Ikea's is pretty OK. But since Jill's prom party was on a Friday, I didn't really have time to drive anywhere in post-work Friday traffic, so I ordered a cake from Sweet Inspiration on Market -- I'd had their princess cake a few years ago and remembered it as not exactly the best, but I was kind of stuck (I knew she really wanted one for her birthday, you see). So I called them up, told them what I wanted, and asked if there was room for an inscription.
"What do you want it to say?"
I'm terrible at inscriptions, the pressure of the high visibility combined with the limited word space just freezes me, so the "Jill Stauffer: Made in heaven" that I came up with was weird, I know!, but still better than other choices I've made in the past: the cartoon of naked grandparents sipping martinis that I had screened on top of the birthday cake of a senior VP of somethingsomething at the conservative ad agency where I once secretaried, for instance, didn't go over so hot.
"That's a weird name. Could you spell that?"
"Yeah, it's S-t-a-u-f-f-e-r."
"No, the first name."
"Yeah. Never heard that one before."
"Jill? It's uh, pretty common. You know, like 'Jack and Jill'?"
"No, Jillllll. Jay, eye, EL, el."
It didn't occur to me until later, like just now, that he was probably fucking with me. That crazy baker humor! If so, he did an excellent job because at the time I thought he was stone-cold serious, "Maybe you should read it back to me."
"Jill Stausser colon made in heaven."
"Wait, that's 'Stauffer,' right? With two efs, as in Frank?"
"[Very slowly] S as in Sam, T, A, U, F as in Frank, F as in Frank, E, R. And the 'colon' part, it's punctuation, right?"
"Oh. So, 'Jill Stauffer dot dot made in heaven'."
"Are the dots on top of each other?"
"No ... oh, OK. That makes more sense."
By that time, I'd started to wonder if maybe "Jill Stauffer colon made in heaven" wasn't a better inscription, anyway. When I went to go pick it up, though, it turned out that he actually had managed to get the COPY right. But the way he executed it was complete outsider art:
What's that white and yellow blob thing?
Did he crack open a Cadbury Creme Egg?
I love how he started out writing with thick frosting, then switched to a thinner nib mid-Stauffer. BROWN frosting! And the squeezed, third-grader, oops-running-out-of-room writing? And that period at the end, like he'd come down with a bad case of punctuation fever?So, so much better than anything I could have come up with on my own. Unlike the cake itself, which tasted kind of like shit-poison. Frownie!
Lucky for Jill, Marilyn made a second cake, a more literal "princess cake," which was not only beautiful, but beautiful in the face of steep odds. She couldn't find a dome-shaped baking pan for the skirt, so she baked the cake in a bundt cake pan and made a supplementary cupcake, which she used to plug the hole of donutty bundt shape. Then she filled in the cracks with frosting, in a completely non-dirty way. Genius!
Now that's more like it.