Everybody loves a Birthday Cake, don't they? I think we all secretly hope that someone will bake that 'certain cake' that is our very favourite for our special day, but even when it turns out to be chocolate instead of sponge, we are still thrilled. Even when no-one has baked for us, we are often overly overjoyed to bake our own, or pop to the shops and get an off-the-shelf sickly sweet one to share and say to everyone 'ta-dah, it's my birthday!' But what about those 'tiresome menfolk' that Fanny mentions, you know the type. They say that they aren't bothered about cake, and even worse they mean it. What on earth do you make to celebrate their special day?
Fanny, as ever, has the solution. She never does say, but I imagine that dear old Johnnie is the annoying man in question here, who, bizarrely but absolutely does not like cake. Well, a sweet cake at any rate. Fanny reckons that a savoury version is the way forward - namely her Savoury Gateau, which she translates into French as Gâteaux Savoureux, just to avoid any confusion. What man could resist a multi-layered, many flavoured, varicoloured, erm, sandwich disguised as a sweet celebration.
Fanny starts with a humble loaf. Her preference is a cottage style one, or a specially baked brioche. That seems like a lot of bother to go to for an unappreciative bloke, so I make do with a hipster faux-sourdough from the supermarket. It looks like a brick, but with Fanny's advice it's soon trimmed down to fit neatly into a 6-inch cake tin. Off-cuts are blitzed to breadcrumbs and frozen, nothing goes to waste. Fanny practically insists that I slice it 'parallel to the table' into a bare minimum of five slices. She also insists I cut paper-thin slices with ease, and without a serrated-edged 'euphemism' of a bread knife. I need to go to work with a perfectly ordinary, well-sharpened. smooth-edged French knife, seemingly.
I like my bread knife, but Fanny says I must throw it away. Don't tell her, but I can't bear to. I am already paying the price however, as I only manage the cut the loaf into four parallel slices. I am ashamed. It's too late for me to test out if a French knife would've been more successful, but if you try it, let me know. I do take Fanny's advice on slicing technique though - she again insists that I do not grip the loaf while I slice it for fear that it will develop a 'pressed-in waistline' producing the most peculiar-shaped slices. Thank goodness I've done something right. Fanny is only trying to make sure I obtain first-class results with the easiest of methods after all.
Fanny stuffs the layers with all sorts of fillings - fish, if we feel like ringing in the changes; cream cheese if we feel like playing it safe. Either way, each layer should be different, with the addition of other cheeses, eggs, cream, nuts and the all important food colouring to make the biggest impact. Oh dear, Fanny will not be pleased, again, as I opt for colourful beetroots and avocados to obtain the same pink and green layers she does. No artificial colours, this time. I use a mix of quark and cream cheese, whizzing them up in a food processor to make a mousse with my chosen accompaniments. Another layer is just a mix of cheeses. Layers of bread and filling are alternated back into the tin, then the finished cake, once chilled, is 'iced' with mayonnaise and left over filling, before being decorated with piped filing and walnuts. What tiresome man wouldn't be delighted with this, served with a sherry or a beer. I think in future I will opt for both sweet and savoury!