Special edition: Best Cakes Ever

This weekend marks the three-year anniversary of my MBA graduation, an achievement of which I am particularly proud and which I very much celebrated in style. A glamorous party was had, and I made sure my cake did the event justice. And so, to mark the occasion I’ve decided to write a special edition post on the top three best cakes of my life.

It’s worth noting that cake is a big deal for me. I only really started taking pleasure in cake in my 20s; in my childhood, every birthday or occasion cake I ever had was never to my liking. My dad’s view was that if he was paying for it, he was going to choose the cake that he liked (regardless of my preferences). You can imagine that a ricotta-filled, rum-soaked sponge cake decorated in gelatin-smothered strawberries was not to my – or indeed, most children’s – liking. I learned to just blow out the candles and leave the cake for the others to eat. However, once I became an adult, I slowly warmed to the concept of cake again and have, in recent years, very much been making up for lost time.

My 2nd birthday, with one of those rum-soaked, ricotta-filled cakes that are so popular amongst Italian-American families – certainly in the 80s and 90s. I did not enjoy this. Ever.

So, without further delay, here are the best cakes of my life…

In 3rd place: my 39th birthday cake from Hudson Cakery, Weehawken, NJ, USA

My 39th birthday cake from Hudson Cakery

For my 39th birthday, my final birthday in my 30s, I spent months researching the best birthday cakes in the New York and New Jersey areas before deciding which one to order. Part of my selection criteria included the feasibility of going out to pick it up from my childhood home in NJ (an hour or more drive was simply out of the question), aesthetic appearance, flavours, and in this case, price. Indeed, this is the only cake on the list whose cost is not in the hundreds of dollars/pounds range.

What I liked about Hudson Cakery was the ease with which I could design my cake to my preference of colours and flavours – and how patient they were on the phone with me as I was trying to figure it all out. I really loved the look of it as well: they managed to achieve that perfect combination of fun, youthful whimsy with a bold elegance, which quite frankly is how I’d describe myself. The colours are feminine yet strong, and the gold touch is festive and celebratory.

My Hudson Cakery cake from the inside

But as good as it is to look at, it was even better to taste! Both the inside of the cake as well as the macarons that decorated it were a combination of two flavours I love: Nutella, and salted caramel. This cake was decadent! With every bite my childhood self leaped for joy. I adored this cake. The only thing I’d warn about this cake is that – like all cakes – it really does need to be served at room temperature. We’d made the error of putting it in the fridge and it was bland and flavourless; when we left it out and had it again at room temperature? It came to life! Unless it’s an ice cream cake, it really should be eaten at room temperature. Lesson learned. And the cake was amazing. Even my dad ate some, albeit with a disgruntled look on his face…

In 2nd place: My 40th birthday party cake from Capri Cakes in Capri, Italy

My 40th birthday sugary masterpiece, by Rosalba Damino of Capri Cakes

When I called Rosalba Damino to design and create the very special cake I wanted for my 40th birthday, I knew I was in good hands. Rosalba makes cakes for the highest order of celebrities and other VIPs which come to celebrate their special occasions on the island as I did, and is renowned for it, even making television appearances to discuss her creations. In my case, the brief was simple: I wanted a cake that represented my favourite place in the whole world… Capri. And together we shared ideas and drawings of what I might be able to expect… but I didn’t see it until the party – and I was absolutely delighted.

She presented a stunning, two-tiered cake that represented so many of my favourite things about the island of Capri: the bright pink bougainvillea flowers, the beautiful, juicy lemons, and the delicately hand-painted ceramic tiles. Through the magic of impressive sugar work and delicate hand painting, she created this stunning masterpiece. Inside? The flavour was lemon, of course, with a sponge that was ever so slightly flavoured with limoncello without being overpowering. The cake was an embodiment of this most wonderful place I love, and I enjoyed every single bite of it. I couldn’t imagine a more special or appropriate cake for my milestone event.

And finally…

In 1st place and Best Cake of My Life: my MBA Graduation cake, from Pretty Gorgeous Cake Company

Here it comes… the cake of my life!

I had extremely high standards for this cake. Unlike birthdays which come every year, an MBA graduation is a once in a lifetime thing and, knowing like no one else does all the sacrifice and effort I put into this achievement, I was going to celebrate it with a party that was equivalent to a wedding – except I didn’t have to share it. And with no guarantee I would/might ever marry, I decided this was the occasion to research the UK’s top wedding cake designers and order a cake worthy of a wedding. No, better: a cake worthy of an MBA.

Such delicately created flowers on this stunning cake

I knew I wanted a two-tiered cake, I knew it needed to have a blue-ish colour theme as the rest of my party did (‘business blue’, as I like to say), and I knew it needed to look as amazing as it would taste. I tried a few places and enjoyed a few cake tastings before I came across Cynthia and her award-winning wedding cakes. She was fantastic: she had no issue with creating a cake that met my aesthetic requirements (colour choice, number of tiers, and most importantly, the elaborately designed three-dimensional flowers that seem to have been taken from a garden to adorn this cake. To look at this cake is to set your eyes upon a work of art that could have been found in any gallery. I’m so pleased the venue provided a cake-cutting service because it would have broken my heart to cut into this cake…

A blue colour theme for a floral cake… it came to life so beautifully

Ah but then we can get to the inside of the cake, which is just as special. Each tier was a different flavour: one tier was chocolate with chocolate fudge filling, and the other was pistachio and almond with vanilla creme filling. When I had attended the cake tasting with my friend several months in advance, we had tried both as well as so many other tempting flavours (she has 23 uniquely different flavours!), but it was really an easy choice. They were both so delicious, and while the exterior of the cake would give the appearance of a far lighter flavour on the inside, I love that the flavours were unapologetically decadent: if one doesn’t go all out to celebrate an event like this, then when?

A slice of each tier of my MBA graduation cake: chocolate, and pistachio and almond

And so there you have them: the three best cakes of my life – at least so far. They are all special to me, but on this three-year anniversary of my MBA graduation, I can’t help but feel warm and joyful at the thought of this particular dream cake that I enjoyed with all my heart.

I honestly can’t imagine how they can possibly be surpassed. You see, for all the delicious, stunning cakes – and indeed foods – there are in the world, what makes them all the sweeter is the context: the location, the event, and the people we share the experience with. This in particular was one of the greatest, proudest, happiest days of my life, and that will never change, whatever great things the future may hold.

The joy of cake: the joy of celebrating a special moment with special people.

PS: In case you’re curious, the cake was adored by everyone. and talked about for weeks… except by my father, who of course can only be contented by a rum-soaked, ricotta-filled cake. It didn’t matter: this time it was me was paying for my party and cake, so I could finally have the cake of my dreams. And there is the joy that comes with independence and autonomy, something my MBA made possible for me. No wonder it’s so special to me.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Meg says:

    I have loved reading this post. The heartfelt emotions are so beautifully expressed, not to forget the splendid cakes. I am salivating now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. caterinamaniscalco says:

      Thank you, Meg! This particular post is more personal than the others, and with that always comes a bit of risk and vulnerability. I’m so glad it was warmly received 🙂

      Like

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