As a child, my parents used to take me to Hamburg Heaven in NYC. We would sit at a counter on which there were sparkling glass pedestals filled with a selection of the tallest and most amazing layer cakes in different flavors. It was such treat to go there and, even though the hamburgers were amazing, my favorite part was dessert. I don’t think my Mom ever baked a cake mix cake, so Hamburg Heaven to me represented the All-American perfect layer cake. I do not know why it is that a celebration just does not seem authentic without a frosted layer cake, but these cakes seem to have carved a space in the American for as far back as I can remember.
For my birthday’s my Mom went all out and brought home beautiful butter cream frosted golden layer cakes decorated with pink frosting roses from Bonte, a French bakery in NY. These cakes were fancy and fit well with my organdy party dressed tied with satin sashes; in those day birthdays were an opportunity as well to get dressed up in your girliest dress, black patent leather Mary Janes and little white socks with lace trim! To this day, I consider my birthday a day of great celebration and, of course, much of it is centered around food and getting dressed up for dinner to look as best as I possibly can for the occasion.
I suppose the cakes at Rosie’s and in my cookbooks most mirror the traditional layer cakes that I ate so often at Hamburg Heaven: sturdier and easily frosted in any homemade style that fits your level of expertise. Goodness knows there are so many things a novice can do to the frosting to make a cake look lusciously appealing. Just swirling the back of a spoon repeatedly on the frosting to form little indentations and peaks creates a sumptuous look that is reminiscent of many of the layer cakes that have been part of our nostalgia. Smooth sides are not a requirement. And if you do not know how to decorate or make frosting flowers, what could be more beautiful than using some fresh flowers on top or some beautiful strawberries or raspberries to crown the creation.