Be careful what you wish for and other joys of baking marathons!

This has been quite the month for the mixing bowls and spoons. You can always tell how much I have been baking by the condition of my hands - because when I am working in the kitchen, I am doing a ton of dishes and washing my hands. A lot. Right now, they are dried out and itchy on the scale of a dozen cookies to 6 six full size cakes and 1000 mini desserts!

Let's begin with a special request from a daughter to her mother, shall we?

A memorial service at the Washington Chapel in Valley Forge park. For a dear older woman who had passed away. Her daughter wondered if I could make two of her mother's favorite cakes - both fond memories from the Frog Commissary, a beloved restaurant in Philadelphia. The Carrot Cake and the Sachertorte.

I love a challenge and it was easy enough finding both recipes in Google rapid fashion. I was to make 3 of each.

It is one thing to be a home baker your entire life. Wowing friends and family. An occassional misstep that no one but you seems to notice and it doesn't matter because it is, after all, homemade with love.

It is quite another to bake for clients - who are willing to pay $80 a piece for - a cake??? That is $480 for 6 cakes.

It was an adventure in pastryland. So many steps. So many do aheads. Cook this. Refrigerate that. Shred a lot of carrots. Melt a lot of chocolate and butter? Let's just say my friend Paula Deen may have to step down as the reigning queen of butter use.

The carrot cakes turned out beautiful! Loaded with golden raisins and chopped pecans. Cutting the fluted bundt cake into three equal layers was probably the hardest part. The filling was cooked and thick and studded with tons of pecans. The icing was pure cream cheese, powdered sugar and butter. The cake was finished off with toasted coconut and piped on carrots. Each weighed about 4 pounds. I made all three one by one which takes longer, but is worth it.

The Chocolate Sachertortes were equally impressive. I chose semi sweet Wilbur chocolate buds in my meltdown. Pure butter. A dozen or so fresh eggs in each - a lot of soft peaked egg whites get folded in and just a bit of flour. A lot of ground walnuts. They bake up high and light. This particular recipe gets partially cooled on a rack and then brushed tops and sides with melted and strained apricot preserves. Once it cools, it is glazed with a homemade ganache that is laced with coffee. Heaven!

No sooner do I get the cakes delivered (Valentine's Day no less) and Andy mumbles something about "one of these days you will get around to making me a Dobostorte." Hmmm. I was wiped out. I had no clue what was in store, but I was not going to let his wish go unfulfilled. Google. UGH ... 8 layers of thin sponge cake. More buttercream. It was 2 p.m. I needed a nap.

4 hours later ... ta da!! My first Dobosorte. It was beautiful. A LOT of work. A LOT of reading recipe and over and over and trying to use all of my skills to hone in on what I was supposed to do. The caramel that was supposed to be poured on top??? NOT!!! Somebody explain that one to me! I even finished his torte off with a Belgian chocolate LOVE and hearts.

Let's just say I came on top for surprises this Feb 14th!!

Up next three days? 1000 + mini desserts for a big annual Oscar party coming up this Sunday.

Stay tuned!

This may involve some homemade Kiffles!!

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