At Cherry Park Elementary School 5th grade marked the entrance to the gates of musical exploration. I chose the trombone; secretly I loved it! I loved how after playing it made your lips swell up like inflated nightcrawlers, not to mention the vibration from the mouth piece onto your lips. I loved how slippery the slide was particularly after a good oiling, and I loved emptying out the spit valve even though it was a little gross.
Yet..., when 6th grade rolled around I dropped the trombone (a fitting metaphor since I was constantly over oiling the slide and literally dropping it) and picked up the clarinet. I never liked the clarinet; it was sooo girly, and the problem with the trombone was that it was too boyish. For a finicky child it was a lose-lose situation.
The plus side of the experience was that I learned the notes of both the bass and the treble clef, the bass via the trombone and the treble through the clarinet, and what precious knowledge that was when I decided to emulate a piano player while sitting in front of our families grand piano.
I'm decent; I'm much better when I'm alone in a room. The few times I've been asked to play at church, for others to sing along, I am immediately reminded how I should have employed a metronome when teaching myself how to play. And to top it off, for someone whose only "decent" I'm a piano snob. The experience of playing on a grand piano greatly distorts the experience of practicing on a keyboard, however grateful I am to Gabriel for buying me one for Christmas a few years ago. So, when friends of ours were moving to a different state and asked if I wanted to trade my keyboard for their piano, I didn't dare flinch worried they would express the gesture as a mistake; it was quite amazing how quickly my keyboard seemed to materialize to hand over for the exchange.
I love it when people ask me to bake them things! It makes me feel like an accomplished pianist being requested to play a special piece of music. If I'm being honest (and perhaps a little conceited), it really makes me feel important for someone else to consider my sweets to be good enough to request!
Cake(s): Lemon Sandwich
Darling friends of ours requested/asked that I make a special dessert to donate to their wards silent auction to help raise money for their young women to go to girls camp. I translated this into, "Make a fancy Fahrenheit 350° creation, preferably something you've never made for anyone else before - or try something from scratch, from inspiration, at the last minute." Since I feel like being honest tonight... I like to show off, but that probably isn't a surprising revelation.
I found a recipe in my "Essential Dessert Cookbook" (I love this cookbook!) for Lemon Pudding, and it thenceforth brought about a craving for Lemon Pudding Cake, which then elicited a secondary craving for Chocolate Shortbread... hence the origination of this luscious concoction.
Lemon Pudding Cake:
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 egg yolks
Rind from one large lemon
Whip together about 5 minutes, until dark yellow and grainy
2/3 cup flour, and mix just until incorporated
Juice and pulp from one large lemon
3/4 cup milk
Mix until smooth
Stir in additional 2/3 cup flour until wet
Pour evenly into four greased 5" miniature springform pans
Bake at 350°F, 35-45 minutes until cake springs back to the touch
Run knife along perimeter of pan before removing rim, cool on wire rack
1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 powdered sugar
4 tablespoons margarine
5 tablespoons butter
Cut together with a fork or pastry blender until dough resembles small peas
2 egg yolks
Continue to mix until dough is wet and thoroughly mixed
Refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes
Roll out to 1/4" thick between two sheets of parchment paper
Use ring of springform pan to cut circles
Bake on cookie sheet at 400°F, 6-8 minutes, cool on wire rack until firm
Juice and pulp from the half of one lemon
1 cup powdered sugar, or enough to create a paste like consistency
Whisk until smooth
Coat the bottom of each chocolate biscuit with a layer of lemon glaze
Center the biscuit over the top of each cake, flip cake over and repeat
Dust with powdered sugar
Adorn with cut strawberry, stem attached, if desired
The faint crunch of the wafery biscuit with smooth chocolate flavor paired with the thick milky cake composed of thousands of tiny condensed flavor dimples that immediately dissolve at the touch of an eager tongue into a delightfully scintillating experience, fuses with the glazing paste making it imperceptible as a distinct flavor but beautifully adds to the zest of the cake. I get very excited over competing textures.
What was extra fun is that this ward shares the same church building as the ward I grew up in, so I knew many of the families having gone to school with some of their children, or simply knowing them from mutual activities. But... what I found even more amusing was that most of the people I did not know, yet person after person kept coming up to me asking: "Is your maiden name Johnson?"