Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sweet Sassafrass, That's Good Stuff!

Late last summer I finally went to the Pepper Place Saturday Market. I combed over the entire thing in about 30 minutes and had not come with a plan. Bad idea. Did I mention it was July and hot as Hades? I was so overwhelmed by the vegetables and the heat that I quickly gave up on the produce hunt. But then I turned a corner, and sitting on a table was the pinkest, sweetest looking strawberry cake I had ever seen. I stopped dead in my tracks and just starred at the pastel confection.

As it turns out, I was currently on a quest to find a strawberry cake recipe that did not include a box of white cake mix and a box of strawberry jello. I wanted to create the buttery pink goodness all on my own. I had made one attempt earlier that summer and it hadn't gone over so well (though my friend Kelly ate it and enjoyed it). The cake I made was a modification of a humming bird cake. It came out moist, but was very dense. And for whatever reason my normally tasty perfect cream cheese frosting came out very runny that day. It was a huge disappointment cause I had searched and searched for a recipe. So here was this cake, the cake I wanted my strawberry cake to taste like, but no matter how much I flirted and teased - the vendor wasn't going to cough up the recipe. He did tell me that it was the last slice, which could have been a total lie, but it made the purchase seem victorious. I had come for vegetables, but left with cake.

I took my slice of cake and sat in the shade where I ate it all by myself. They had kept it in the cooler, so the cool sweetness of it all made it just that much better. Other visitors were commenting on how good my cake looked. I beamed and I took other big bite. I even sent messages to my friends about how awesome life was at that moment. Then I made it home, and had completely forgotten the name of the bakery. I felt like I had failed at life. I searched all over the Internet using phrases like "Best Strawberry Cake in Birmingham" and couldn't find it. I went back the next Saturday, and they weren't there.

All year I talked about this cake and how I wanted... NEEDED... to find that cake again. When spring rolled around I mentally prepared myself to get up every Saturday, trot down to Pepper Place, and eat every strawberry cake there until I found it. Oh the sacrifice. So this week Dennis and I broke our cheesy couple cherry and went to the farmer's market. (At least we didn't have the golden retriever so many other couples have... that would have been too much cheese for me). Ironically, we were trying to find strawberries that had tasted as good as the ones in my Grow Alabama box. When we first arrived we did a little sweep through, all the while I kept an eye out for the cake. I found some great Blount county honey and some decent strawberries for my ice cream. But no luck. Finally as we were leaving Dennis spots a single slice of strawberry cake on a table. I bolt around to look. It's them! We immediately buy a slice (that came with a free tote bag) and head home. We share the slice, but even Dennis comments that we should have gotten two (as he swipes the last bit of frosting from the carton with his finger).

In case you were wondering, the vendor is a local catering company called Ashley Mac's. I've looked over the menu, and they do have a store where you can pick up frozen casseroles (the small size feeds 2 or 3 - perfect for Tiny Tables) and that lovely strawberry cake. Dennis and I plan to check it out soon. For as long as I live in Birmingham, this cake will be enjoyed by me for birthdays, holidays, and any cause for celebration.

I'm still looking for a good strawberry cake recipe (until Ashley Mac gives me hers)... so if you know of one let me know! I will be testing a modified small batch cake recipe trying to create a decent tasting strawberry cake for two. Of course, I'll let you know how that goes.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Amanda!
    I was just on Facebook and saw your link for the blog post. I am so flattered that you loved our cake so much. It NEVER get's old hearing that people love your food! It took years to perfect that I'm afraid the recipe is sealed in a vault for now! But just for your incredibly kind post..I would love to give you a few free slices of cake- the Strawberry and also maybe I can tempt you with our Carrot, Chocolate or Coconut too!..just shoot me an email when you decide to come by in case I'm not
    Thanks again and please keep telling everyone about us!
    Ashley Mac