Cardamom saffron cake, alphonso mango buttercream, candied fennel.
Recipe by Roopa at Raspberry Eggplant, Nov. 2007.

Plum frangipane tart.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, Feb. 2008.

Earl grey cake, kumquat marmalade (between layers), almond meringue buttercream.
Recipe by Roopa at Raspberry Eggplant, Jan. 2008.

Chocolate, toffee, bacon. Bourbon meringue buttercream.
Cake adapted from Chockylit at Cupcake Bakeshop, Oct. 2009; frosting modified from Roopa's plain swiss meringue buttercream.

I guess I think of baking a birthday cake as fulfilling a particular wish. The bacon cupcakes were for a woman in the department. Loved the addition of bourbon to the swiss meringue. Split a dozen between bacon (the birthday wish) and vegetarian (only toffee); the cupcakes were a bit dry for my taste but novel enough.

I'd been wanting to revisit Roopa's earl grey cake since first making it for Raechel, and this was for my girl Caroline's 20th. Only after purchasing ingredients for a key lime ginger cake did I receive her text preferring the tea flavor profile, haha. No worries -- I love this cake above all others.

That said, the mango buttercream is the silkiest, easiest-with-which-to-work buttercream frosting I've ever made. Ever. I didn't actually have a slice of this one (lost my appetite after a string of decorating/travel-related stumbles, but I think despite 90+ degrees the Indian-inspired paisley turned out okay) but it tasted (and smelled) pretty good in process.

Met a handful of undergrads at Caroline's party who invited us to dinner later in the week. Since one is originally from Paris, I wanted to make frangipane, subbing summer red plums for poached pears. They made a fabulous dinner: feta-stuffed eggplant rolls, caramelized brussel sprouts, herb-marinated grilled lamb ribs. I overworked and burned the crust, but hypnotized everyone from noticing with glazed plum spirals.

I'm feeling the solstice. Suddenly, all this time to bake. Climate troubs: frosting requires constant chilling, layers benefit significantly from flash-freezing (see Deb's super helpful tips here) -- but I love seeing how bringing dessert lights up the room, or backyard. Candle notwithstanding.