Never Mind, It’s ‘Gourmet’

This weekend we had a family birthday, and as usual I made a birthday cake. I love making birthday cakes; partly because, hello, it’s cake, and I get to make lots of different flavours throughout the year; and partly because it’s usually divided among a large enough group that I can’t pig out on it.  (Much.)

This time it was confetti cake.  The cake turned out fine, and after it cooled I mixed up the ermine frosting and started spreading it on.

Sometimes I wonder whether it’s better to wear my glasses so that I notice oddball details; or not to wear them and be happily oblivious. But for better or worse, I was wearing my glasses, so I noticed the odd little… things making lumps in my frosting.

I hadn’t put any things in it when I mixed it up, so I tasted one and determined that it was a tiny dumpling of over-cooked flour. (Ermine frosting is a velvety-smooth, not-too-sweet frosting that starts with milk and flour cooked together.)  And there were lots of those little rubbery bits, ranging in size from a pinhead to a popcorn kernel. Grrr!

I’ve been making birthday cakes for years without a problem, so I have standards.  I scraped that batch of frosting off the cake and relegated it to the fridge for non-public use. (Hey, it was still yummy buttery frosting — I wasn’t going to throw it away!)

I mixed up a second batch, only to discover to my chagrin that it had things in it, too. (I blame the flour – it wasn’t my usual brand.)  Fortunately the things were smaller, so I slapped the frosting on the cake and served it up, and nobody noticed. Or they were too polite to comment. Either way, I’ll call it a win.

When I confessed the debacle to Hubby later, he laughed. “I’ve seen weirder stuff on a menu,” he said. “If anybody notices, just tell them it’s ‘gourmet’.”

So that’s my new go-to excuse for failed recipes, to be spoken in a tone of utmost snootiness: “It’s gourmet cuisine. I don’t expect you to understand.”

Now, please excuse me while I sneak into the kitchen and help myself to that tub of ‘gourmet frosting’.  😉

What’s your favourite birthday cake and frosting combo?

I’m no professional, but I have fun decorating cakes anyway!

Big news:  The audiobook version of The Spy Is Cast (Book 2) has just been completed!  It should be available through Amazon /Audible within a few weeks; and the audiobook for Reach For The Spy (Book 3) is in production now.

Book 15 update:  I’m halfway through Chapter 16, and Arnie’s loyalty is being tested…

48 thoughts on “Never Mind, It’s ‘Gourmet’

  1. Trying again. It has been quite a journey trying to comment on this post.
    I love your cake, and very rarely decorate mine.
    Indeed I rarely make cake anymore.
    with the exception of Christmas cakes.
    Years ago I made a rod for my own back and started making Christmas cakes for family and friends (over 15 this year of various sizes).
    I soak the fruit in booze for a week. After the cakes are cooked they get another cap full of rum or brandy (every couple of days until they are given away). The cake you have when you are having a drink.
    Spaghetti has a part to play too. I use uncooked strands to test for ‘doneness’. More than once they have snapped off inside the cake. I lie low and say nuffin Brer Rabbit.


    • Ha! At least fruitcake has enough texture that nobody would ever notice the spaghetti. And wow, with all the booze in it, even if they did notice, nobody would care! 🙂

      I’m sorry you had such a hard time commenting on the post — what happened? Did it do its “Sorry, this comment can’t be posted” thing? If so, that’s caused by leaving the page up too long before commenting, and you can fix it by hitting the F5 key on your keyboard to refresh the page before you write your comment.

      Or sometimes it just decides to be a pain and eat comments for no apparent reason. I’ve gotten to the point where I never hit the Post Comment button anymore without first highlighting my comment and hitting Ctrl-C to copy it. Then if the comment gets eaten, I can paste it back into the box and try again.

      Hope this helps – your comments mean a lot to me, so I don’t want my blog to torture you every time! 🙂


  2. My first and last attempt at fancy cake-making was supposed to be a four-layer cake but it kept doing a leaning Tower of Pisa imitation . . . French indeed 🙂 After that I used Betty Crocker cake mixes and Betty Crocker icing and never had a failure. That stuff is MADE to stay together! (in your arteries as well as on the plate)

    Well done, you, on that cake – it looks delicious!


    • Thanks! It was pretty darn tasty. Fortunately we had a biggish group, so I only ate two pieces. 😉

      Your comment about the artery-cloggers made me laugh! Cake mixes seem so convenient, but I’ve never gotten around to using them. Many long years ago I tried one, but the instructions were so small and it was such an unfamiliar process that it turned out I could make my regular recipe in the same amount of time. But my mouth still waters at the photos on those boxes! Talk about food porn…


  3. OK I’ll be the first. No one else thought “Ermine frosting? Since when did you start putting ermines in frosting? I didn’t realize they were that tasty!”
    Happy turkey day to those of us in the lower 48. My favorite cake has to be red velvet, but it’s got to be fresh and either home made or from scratch like you get from a great bakery or fine restaurant, and frosted with cream cheese frosting. A close second is Cherry Pan Cake, where you take a chocolate cake mix, a bit of oil, egg and can of cherry pie filling and mix it all up in a cake pan. After it bakes, you serve it with a sauce of sour cream and sugar that is warmed enough to get them mixed and the sour cream runny. I’m all about the sweet/sour.


  4. My first wife once made for me a birthday cake featuring a Yosemite Sam design that featured buttercream frosting in several colors. Simple dark chocolate cake, but what made it memorable was that every color frosring was strongly orange-flavored. Excellent combination.


  5. Cajun is another style I refer to in case of over cooking. Throw a little cajun hot sauce on whatever was burnt and say it’s from New Orleans like my newly patented “blackened mac and cheese.” Then smiling and pretending it’s delicious while sneaking it to the dog helps to sell the concept. As you probably know Cajun is derived from Acadians which is Canadian French if I remember correctly, so carrying on the French tradition.


  6. Hey that cake is very nice!! From the picture it looks perfect and very edible! I’ve always wanted to learn how to decorate cakes but when I’ve tried to apply the pretties with those piping bags my forearms aren’t strong enough! I don’t get it. I played softball, I’m a painter and lift 5 gallon buckets all day long, my arms are strong. But those darn things foil my attempts every time! Gggrrrrr…… Honestly, I’m not a very good baker so I had hoped that if I could at least make it look pretty it would somehow make it taste better, lol. Oh well.
    I like just about any kind of cake that doesn’t have bananas in it. My favorite is probably German chocolate, with that coconut and pecan frosting. Yum. Tomorrow is pumpkin pie day here in the states and though I love pie, pumpkin ranks somewhere barely above banana creme for me. As long as there is key lime I think I’ll live😂.
    Thanks for the updates on book 15!! Can’t wait for it!


  7. hum, wonder if that will work with my poetry – It’s French, that’s why you don’t understand it. I will have to figure out how to explain that my French poetry is written in English though. That could be a problem …


  8. I’m passing that excuse over to my wife….she will so appreciate it as it should save her having to re-do some of her recipe experiments……she loves experimenting with recipes and I’m such an easy target…..


  9. My favorite is a gin cake. Normal old sponge, soaked in a gin and lemon syrup with gin and lemon icing, best eaten with….you get the idea. (Condensed milk cake is also an absolutely delightful surprise.)
    I used to get flour lumps in everything- gravy, bechamel, stew I was thickening etc. Then I discovered that they absolutely cannot survive a handheld blender on high speed for a few moments. I have received some odd looks when people come into the kitchen and find me with the beaters in the gravy pan but heh…it’s French right 🙂 (Beaters also make the fluffiest -and easiest- mashed potato of all time.)


    • The gin cake sounds absolutely delicious! (And even if you didn’t like it at first, after a few pieces you wouldn’t care anymore.) 😉 I’d never heard of condensed milk cake, so I hurried off to look it up. What a simple and yummy-sounding recipe! Uh-oh. I feel another baking spree coming on…

      I love my stick blender, too — it’s gotten me out of many a ‘lumpy’ situation. I did actually try it on the frosting, too; but to no avail.


  10. My favorite? Chocolate layer cake with buttercream frosting. A runner up might be red velvet with cream cheese frosting.

    My mother used to decorate cakes–when she had the summers off (she was a commercial artist and was designing the front color sections of all the local high school yearbooks), she would take up some sort of artistic pursuit. So for a couple of years, it was cake decorating. The family had all sorts of her cakes at the gatherings.

    One that comes to mind was the cake in two layers, the top layer half the diameter of the lower, where the flat horizontal surface was a racetrack. She used those circus peanuts (the marshmallow candies) to make two little race cars. In her usual way, she made it unique–she had one of the cars “crashed” into the side of the upper cake. Everyone got a kick out of it, except for her aunt–she thought the cake had been damaged and we caught her trying to “fix” the crashed circus peanut car! Luckily we were able to catch her in time and she finally figured out it was supposed to be that way.

    A similar celebration cake we had was based on champagne. The cake itself had a small (aka “split”) champagne bottle embedded in it. To further decorate it, two small plastic champagne glasses on top, filled halfway with a pink decorating gel. Only you can probably imagine Mom’s twist to it–she had one of the glasses tipped over and a little puddle of pink-gel “champagne” spilled where the glass had fallen. I’m sure a couple of partygoers wanted to correct that faux fiasco as well.

    My decorating tactic? If the frosting sticks, it’s good enough! 😁


    • Oh, wow! Your mom sounds like a very talented lady, and I love her sense of humour. The racetrack cake is hilarious!

      Chocolate layer cake with buttercream, mmmmm! That’s my favourite, too; closely followed by spice cake with brown sugar fudge icing. (Pro tip: If you spread the leftover brown sugar icing into a pan and slice it, it actually is fudge… 😉


      • Sadly, our days of desserts are in the past–my better half has diabetes running in her family on both sides, and she was diagnosed with pre-type 2 diabetes (just prior to going for surgery this summer). So it’s not just the sugar, it’s all the carbs we’re cutting back on. It’s a real battle sometimes as I’m sure you well know, one does not tell a redhead what she can or cannot eat! 🤣


  11. Your cake looks fantastic, even if it is French! I do all the baking for family events and have had my share of interesting results. Years ago I made a checker board cake for my sister-in-laws anniversary. I did not realize that I had not gotten the tops of each layer (there were 3) flat until it started sliding apart once it was iced. In a panic to find something long enough to anchor it together I grabbed several strands of uncooked spaghetti and skewered the layers together. Amazingly it worked. The next day when it was served the spaghetti had picked up some moisture from the cake and gone a bit soft but the cake was still sitting solid. My one brother-in-law congratulated me on my “out of the box” thinking. The rest of the family just thought it was very odd to have spaghetti sticking out of the cake.


    • Spaghetti! That’s brilliant! I’ve never made a checkerboard cake — it sounds like too much of a precision operation for my skills. The best I can manage is four layers for a Black Forest cake, with whipped cream for a leveling agent. Even then it sometimes wants to slither sideways on the cherry filling, so I’ll keep your spaghetti trick in mind. 😉


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.