I like Valentine's Day. I wouldn't say I'm into the conventional sort of valentine gift giving - like a dozen red roses or heart-shaped boxes of chocolate - but I definitely value Valentine's Day as a day that reminds us all to do something thoughtful for someone else.
I have found love so perhaps that's why enjoy what most people consider to be a manufactured holiday. In a lot of ways I agree that it is manufactured. However, I think it's best to embrace Valentine's Day as a day to consciously love all people a little more. In fact, sometimes I think that this "hallmark holiday" is strategically placed at the tail end of winter's darkest days to remind us of light-filled spring days to come.
This year I wanted to bake an angel food cake and decorate it with a banner strung of three dimensional hearts. Originally I envisioned this simple cake stand topped with several layers of pink cake. Inspired by this design, I planned to create a gradient from white to a rich pink hue. Instead of using the more tried-and-true method of food coloring for the gradient, I ventured into uncharted territory and decided to add slightly more strawberry puree to each layer, in hopes that it would turn out exactly as I imagined. Well, as you may suspect, things didn't turn out exactly as I planned as they rarely do on the first try. While the strawberry puree made for a deliciously flavored cake, adding too much of it to the cake mix required longer cooking times and created an interesting consistency. Frustrated with the outcome of my first attempt, I decided to go with plan B, which meant omitting the gradient all together and simply adding strawberries atop two layers of plain angel food cake. Luckily, this approach worked out better and I was able to create the decorative banner on the first try. I suppose now we're both aware of my strengths and weaknesses. As for the cake stand, without time to order the one on my wish list I was able to get this one for no cost using a gift card from our wedding, nearly three years ago.
Fear not, I will attempt the ever-intimidating gradient cake again, next time in a more scientific and predictable way. I'll be sure to share the result with you, for better or worse.