75th Birthday Rainbow Cake
I can hardly believe my mother celebrated her 75 birthday last week in Bangalore, India. To me she will always be the gorgeous, glamorous, beautiful, charming hostess, friend, mentor and guiding star who wore many hats successfully.
Gladys Caroline Krupa was born on 2nd July 1935 to Theodore & Wilhelmina Soans (nee Tholar) in South Kanara district. She received her schooling at Mission High School, Udipi & Board High School, Kundapura. At a time when most girls got married early, she completed her B.A. with distinction in Home Science from St. Agnes College, Mangalore and then honed her culinary skills for 1 year at Nazareth Convent, Mangalore, specialising in Inernational Cuisine. This held her in good stead over the years as she entertained diplomats, bureaucrats, family, friends and civilians alike.
She married my dad Cyril Elisha, I.A.S. in 1957 and was soon busy bringing up the four of us. She coaxed, cajoled, encouraged, scolded and urged us to do our best. We learnt how to be committed and dedicated from her. In fact as the only children singing in the St. Mark's Choir, she ruled that only those who attended choir practice regularly, would get pocket money. I appreciate that now, as music is very much a part of our lives today.
My fathers's sudden death in 1971 was a blow to all of us. From VIP's to nobodies was hard to bear. I cannot even imagine how my mother picked up the pieces of our shattered lives and put it together painstakingly over the years. I can think of only one phrase to describe her - "When the going gets tough, the tough get going!" At this point of time I would like to thank Prakash Uncle and Shobha Akka our very own Rock of Gibralter for nearly four decades.
My mother is an amazing cook. When Nehru first ate in our house, he was amazed. Once we were married, he happily ate everything she put in front of him, including idlis and uppuma, that I still detest. As newly weds we often made a beeline to her house whenever our cupboard was bare. She taught me to keep house, to cook, to bake, to sew, to paint, to embroider, to be honest, ethical, independent and much more. Her four grand daughters adore her and she shamelessly spoils them, a luxury she could not afford with us. My daughters, Serita & Ranita say she is the best cook in the world and I agree. Mummy, Ma, Nana, Gladys, Glady, SannAkka, Akka, Aunty, Sister or Friend - whatever you choose to call her- is Simply the BEST! Happy Birthday Ma and thank you!
And now, here is the recipe for the Rainbow Cake that Ranita insisted I make and the entire family helped to put together for an extraordinary woman.
Ranita & I made the cherry blossoms in 10 days. Serita & Asha painted them, Swetha & Joyce layered the cake, Smitha whipped the cream and I supervised everything.
The cake has five layers. You need to make five layers per cake (one set is a standby), so choose your colours and get to work.
*175 gms butter; 175 gms caster sugar; 3 eggs beaten; 175 gms flour; 1 tsp baking powder; 1 tsp. vanilla essence; 1 tsp food colouring (you will require 5 different colours. I used pink, yellow, green, blue and orange).
Grease and base-line two 9 inch sandwich tins. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. If the mixture begins to curdle add 1 tbsp of flour with the second egg. Using a metal spoon, fold in the flour gently. Divide the mixture between the the two tins and bake for 25 to 30 minutes in centre of oven till the cakes spring back when lightly pressed. Turn onto a wire rack to cool, removing the lining paper.*
Repeat * to * until you have 10 cakes, two of each colour.
Assembling The Cake
20 cm decorative round cake board; 75 Cherry Blossoms; 36 leaves; golden sash; candles; Happy Birthday From All Of Us Placard ; Whipped Cream Filling; Royal Icing; Marzipan; Apricot Jam
For The Filling
1 litre whipping cream; caster sugar to taste.
Beat the cream and sugar until stiff. Place the first cake on the board and sandwhich the layers together with the whipped cream leaving the top bare.
1/2 kg marzipan (see recipe for easter Eggs in April post).
2 tbsp apricot jam
Roll out to a 20 cm round. Brush topmost layer with apricot jam and place the marzipan on it. Gently press down. Make the Royal Icing.
3/4 kg icing sugar; 4 to 6 egg whites; 1 tsp almond essence; juice of 1/2 a lime or lemon to make the icing dazzling white.
Sieve the icing sugar and keep aside. Seperate the egg whites and place in a large bowl. Add the essence and the lime juice and mix well. Add the egg whites a little at a time until the icing is of spreading consistency. Work fast as royal icing hardens quickly. Ice the cake on top and sides and even out using a knife. Dry the cake for 15 to 20 minutes under a fan. Cover remaining icing with cling film and keep aside. Apply a second layer of icing to top and sides. Dry over night. Next day arrange cherry blossoms on top of the cake along with a few leaves. Tie a golden sash around base of cake. Add the rest of the trimmings.
Revel in your ability to produce a beautiful cake and enjoy the oohs and ahs from astonished guests!