We have celebrated many family birthdays amidst cake layers festooned with swirls of buttercream. We have also tucked birthday candles into crevices of pie crust, busting with blueberries, or ripe with summer peaches. February poses a bit of a challenge regarding fresh fruit ripe for the baking. That's why I'm stumped and that may be the tipping point in Pie vs. Cake.
Chez moi, our leanings tend towards pie almost unanimously. It has been brought to my attention however, that one of us has been known to choose birthday cake- not because she prefers cake to pie. She simply prefers hearing herself bemoan the fact that she's the Birthday Girl and she'll just go ahead and make her own cake anyway, because, well, who else is going to and... But enough about me.
I posed my question to those gathered around the bakery work table and was surprised to find quite a few pie enthusiasts. Even the high school and college baristas voted in favor of Birthday Pie. Those who chose cake (Sweet Lady Carey) indicated that it's really not about the cake at all. It's about the frosting and the cake is a mere vessel for said frosting.
Among the Seattle-ites I found a slight divide. Strong pie leanings from my youngest nephew, particularly if lattice crust is featured. My handsome brother-in-law and oldest nephew are cake-ers. My brother-in-law is also I might add, a damn fine baker. My sister is what she calls "Dessert Positive" so she'll take either unless white peaches are in season. Then it's pie all the way.
My mother has always been the peacemaker seated at one head of the dining room table. She is possibly the least selfish person I know and if asked what she would like for her birthday dessert would tell me not to fuss. Which makes this all the more daunting. Of course I'm going to fuss; when I'm an octogenarian, my kids better be fussing over me.
When it comes to desserts, my mother inherited from her mother a fondness for custards and creams, chocolate and glaceed fruits. She also has a penchant for everything lemon so I could go in quite a few directions. The question is, which one?
There is also the whole Boston Cream Pie debate. I know nothing says Happy Birthday better than sponge layers sandwiched with pastry cream and dark chocolate dripping down the sides. Is that considered pie or cake or both?
I have another day to ponder this and perhaps a stroll through the produce aisles of Whole Paycheck will serve to inspire. The more I think about it though, it's not a question of Birthday Pie or Birthday Cake. When I consider the recipient the answer is simple; this Birthday Girl deserves one of each.