the fourth annual New Year’s cake

Three years ago, I was thick in the January blues. After I took down my decorations I decided to make a cake for the new year. The next year, I bought a coral cake stand on a whim at Target at the beginning of January. Once again in the throes the holiday letdown, I saw that perfect cake stand as the best way to spend $20. And it was. And then I made a cake for the new year. Then I called the New Year’s cake an official tradition. Now I know that sweets in January aren’t always welcome. You know, healthy resolutions and everything. But here’s the thing: my resolutions rarely include vegetables. So I make cake.

This is my fourth year making a New Year’s cake, and I shared it with some friends. The past couple of years I’ve gone with a devil’s food recipe with chocolate frosting, but this year I made my favorite yellow cake.

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{That darling calendar is from Hairpin Letterpress. And right now it’s 50-percent off! I’m in love with it and keep moving it around my house so I can see it in All the Places.}

Honestly, I wasn’t thrilled with how the actual cake turned out. The layers didn’t bake up as full as they usually do with this recipe, and I may have over-baked them by a minute or two. (And in baking, a minute or two can be highly consequential.) I’ll even admit that I flirted with the idea of baking a new cake entirely. But then I realized that in this particular instance starting over was crazy (and expensive). So I frosted those short, dry-ish layers, threw some sprinkles in the middle, and called it good.

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The real winner of the 2015 New Year’s cake, though, was the ice cream. I tried out a chocolate recipe from Joy the Baker’s new cookbook, and it was intense in the best of ways. The chocolate I used wasn’t even as dark as what Joy recommended, and I was still blown away by the chocolate intensity. (Because I’m a chocolate purist, I saw no reason to include the orange zest. That combo has never been my thing.) I was amazed at how creamy and rich and downright delicious this ice cream was. It’s a bit of a process to make, but oh so worth the work. This ice cream involves time on the stovetop, chilling in the fridge, churning in the ice cream maker, and finally some freezing in the freezer. And let me tell you, it paid off.

So maybe making a New Year’s cake isn’t the most resolution-y thing to do in January, and maybe it comes on the heels of the Christmas sugar overload. But I love this tradition. Especially when it involves the chocolate-iest of all the chocolate ice cream.

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