The War of the Roses

When I was little, I remember the movie version of “The War of the Roses” with Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny deVito scaring the CRAP out of me, but also making me highly curious about all things love and life. Now, keep in mind, at this time, I also felt the same about the movie ‘Howard the Duck’ and ‘Batteries Not Included’ (AWESOME), so I’m not sure about how relevant my early 80’s thoughts are these days, but they shaped a mind, regardless.

“Is this what adult relationships are like?!?!”, wondered my little brain, as glass crashed, chandeliers were swung from, venom spewed. Terrifying. Later in life, my larger, more experienced (and tired, though I can’t say much more evolved) brain answered, “They shouldn’t be.” – and made a cake instead.

BUT – do you know what isn’t like that?


Cake – and friendship.

After everything falls apart in life (relationships AND cake, sometimes), as cliched as it sounds, you can always count on friends to be there to help you put things back together – or when everything is great, you can be sure they’ll be there, and be happy for you. (…and maybe have an extra bucket of icing around to help you smush the cake back together should it fall over, whether from being thrown or from natural causes.)(which totally happened to my best friends amazing wedding cake a couple years back – we watched it slowly.. fall.. off.. the table… but it was put back with such expert speed you’d never know that it happened!)

At any rate, recently, one such friend had a birthday!

I told her I’d make her a cake, as she is usually the one who makes the birthday cakes (seriously, just ask her) – and she said she’d like something vanilla and pretty.

IMMEDIATELY my mind shot to an image that I’d seen a few weeks back on a blog posting on foodgawker – a Rose Cake tutorial. This tutorial was PERFECT! Step by step and with little hints. AND, it said it was easier than it looked. So, I said, I knew just what to make.

Looking back, really, for a first time doing a big piping buttercream type project – it WAS relatively simple! It was no war at all, really, until at the very end when my hands were slippery and my eyes started to bug out of my head because it was 12:30AM and why couldn’t I just be patient and wait til morning?!?!?!!! but NOOOO NO NO!!! gotta get it done NOW or else I won’t sleep. Way to go self, way to go. Deep breath.

Ahhhh... random flower image... breattthhheeee...

All I needed was a good level cake (as level as I can get it with limited tools), a delicious buttercream, a 1m tip and a piping bag. (read: a ziplock bag with the tip attached with packing tape.)(again, being limited in gear is no problem if you use a bit of elbow grease.)(and 6 + sticks of butter.)(did I say that?)(oops, the secrets out.), and to give in to the fact that no matter how many times I washed my hands or had a bath – I was just going to smell like butter now. That was my fate.

It was worth it!

The cake was a hit – especially with my friend – and that’s really all that matters.

The cake itself was a buttermilk cake from Joy of Cooking (actually the same recipe as the red velvet, but with the steps to making it red velvet omitted) with a classic buttercream frosting. Double batch. You’ll need LOTS of frosting for this. LOTS. This is not a health cake.

*One note on this cake – I never actually have buttermilk on hand (as I have no idea what else I would use it for), so I just make my own. I use about 1tbls of lemon juice per cup of milk, and let it sit for a bit before adding it to the recipe – and that seems to work great!


Buttermilk Layer Cakestraight out of ‘Joy of Cooking’

(makes two 8 or 9 inch round layers)(I made double this recipe)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Have all ingredients at room temperature. Grease and flour your cake pans or line bottoms of pans with wax or parchment paper.

Whisk together until thoroughly blended:

  • 2 1/3 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Beat in a large bowl until creamy:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter

Gradually add and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, 3 – 5 minutes:

  • 1 1/3 cups sugar

Whisk together then gradually beat in, taking about 2 mins:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Beating at a low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with:

  • 1 cup buttermilk

in two parts, beating until smooth, scraping the bowl with a spatula as necessary.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in cake comes out clean. (I always use a knife) – about 25 – 30 minutes in 9 inch pans, closer to 30 – 35 minutes in 8 inch pans.

Frost with your favourite buttercream recipe. I used the one from Joy of Cooking – but if you have one you like that pipes nicely, use that!

Because of the roses, this cake is a real frosting monger – so I highly suggest doubling your recipe. Seriously. 6 sticks of butter. I could have used more – but I ran out of butter.

Now, give of this cake freely – it is not one that is safe to horde – and life is too short not to love everybody.

Cheers, and until next time (when you will likely STILL smell like butter if you get the frosting all over you, as I did),

peace, and take care of your friends.

Allison :)



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2 responses to “The War of the Roses

  1. Manfred Samek

    Thanks, my dear, I´ll be your friend and take care of you1

  2. I think I can smell the butter from here (Australia). My heart made quite a few jumps when it saw this. I get the feeling that this is like the piano. “moonlight sonata” sounds really nice, but you need to practice a bit before you get it looking (sounding) that good.

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