Mike's ultimate frisbee team, 7Express, had their end-of-season party this past Sunday. The original plan for a cookout was nixed thanks to the cold and rainy weather provided by the second Nor'Easter in three days.
Instead, the party was held indoors at one of the teammate's very fantastic apartment. The hors d'oeuvres were plentiful and the huge pots of three types of chili filled the air, and later our tummies, with a spicy, comforting scent.
Sometimes, I not-so-secretly hate the fact that the team snatches Mike away from me on our coveted weekends. Tournaments mean he leaves Friday after work to drive to some far-away place where they have things like trees and green fields. A tired, sore and sometimes cranky, depending on the outcome of the games, Mike returns late Sunday night.
Last year, Mike's season ended in an injury which made me hate frisbee even more. I thought that injury would be the end to Mike's frisbee-playing days, but much to my shock, this made him want to play even more.
But something changed, on my part, this season. I have some ideas of what brought on this radical shift in my disposition towards frsibee, but suddenly I found myself whining a lot less about being left alone on the weekends.
I realized how much Mike enjoyed frisbee; it was his outlet away from the real world, just like running was for me. So, suddenly, I turned from despising frisbee to a behind-the-scenes cheerleader, for no other reason than it was something Mike cared about.
So I wanted to offer something special to the team at this end-of-the-season party. Naturally, dessert came to mind.
I decided a cake would be appropriate and set about designing and sketching a cake inspired by the team's jersey. With Mike's help, I decided on a flavor combination of chocolate cake (think fudgy, brownie-like chocolate deliciousness) with chocolate-hazelnut buttercream.
The party was Sunday and as some elements needed to set overnight, and to preserve my sanity, I began baking the cakes on Friday night. I wanted the cake to be three layers, but the recipe made four and I decided an extra layer wasn't a problem in case disaster struck. So, one-by-one, only able to bake one layer at a time, each layer taking one hour, the beautiful chocolate layers emerged from my little countertop convection oven.
Saturday morning, I made the buttercream, filled and stacked the layers, crumbcoated the cake and let it set in the refrigerator until the evening. (I really did mean to take photos throughout the assembly, but my fingers were sticky from buttercream and cake crumbs)
Saturday evening, I colored the fondant red, rolled it thin and covered and smoothed the cake. Later (11 PM!) I colored more fondant, black this time, rolled it very long and cut-out the NYC skyline with my little XActo knife. Michael Buble kept me company as my Michael was freezing his butt off at the Yankees game. I affixed the skyline and collapsed into bed, glasses still on.
Sunday, before the party, I piped the team logo on top of the cake. Then, Mike and I set off to the party, me keeping a death-grip on the cake box as our taxi driver navigated the rainy city roads.
It was a hit. Well, that, or people were just being really nice. Photos were snapped, questions were asked and no one wanted to cut into the cake. Finally, everyone, already stuffed from the chili and snacks, made a little more room and dove in.
I was happy that Mike's teammates enjoyed the design of the cake. More than that, they actually enjoyed the taste of the cake and buttercream. Sometimes I tend to dwell on the things that I would have liked to have done differently or to have turned out better. So it's nice to have people reign you in and make you remember that the biggest thing that counts is the gesture.