December and January are the Birthday Blitz around here--it starts mid-December and doesn't quit till mid-February, with soccer coach son's birthday, which takes place in Kansas, so I don't bake a cake for that one. However, so far I've baked three cakes since mid-December, and will bake at least a couple more before it's all done, and that doesn't include the tiny cupcakes I baked for the big family dinner.
This year, I have ventured forth with new, untested recipes. While I was poring over cake recipes on Sunday for singing son's chocolate cake
(ME: What kind of cake would you like?
HIM: Whose birthday did you make a chocolate cake for?
ME: College daughter's
HIM: like that one, only chocolatier. Chocolate-y chocolate.)
I ran across a recipe that I thought would be good. In another cookbook, I read a recipe for a Blackberry Jam cake, not appropriate for this occasion, but I thought of the blackberry jam I made during my jam-making mania a few months ago, and it seemed like a good idea to fill the chocolate cake with blackberry jam.
So, cut to the layers coming out of the oven, me deftly turning them over, still in their pans, onto clean-towel-covered racks, then hightailing it to the dog park. An hour and fifteen minutes later: the cake layers refused to come out of their pans except in raggedy, sorry-looking parts. Mostly they came out. Mostly. I could tell from the clumps that didn't fall right out that the cake tasted good, though. So we had that going for us. Which was good, I guess, except that I had to do some plastic surgery on the cake, using ganache as the smoother/filler. And the sides just didn't get iced, that was that.
I decided to fill half the cake with blackberry jam and half with the ganache. I drew a thin line with the knife down the center of the cake where the Mason-Dixon line was for jam and not-jam. Then, on the point of serving the pretty-on-the-inside cake, I announced: "I filled half the cake with blackberry jam and half not, so tell me if you want a jam piece." Immediately, running son and his dad said, "No jam!" Everyone else wanted some of the jam half, and everyone thought it was good, and it was good. Even if the cake had a small tendency to fall apart. We all fell into a cake-eating daze.
My daughter thoughtfully opined that having "clumps" of jam--aka actual berries--was weird, though singing son and his wife disagreed. Her husband asked for another piece. "A jam piece?" I asked. "Jam it up, sister," he said.
Running son let out a shriek--"Jam bite!" Ineffective jam quarantine, I guess.