Serious Eats: Recipes

Eating for Two: Strawberry Bavarian

Last month my mother and I were talking about what babies eat and when during their first year, and she asked me if I was planning to make my own baby food. "Of course I am planning to," I said, “but I understand that things get a little crazy when you're dealing with a baby." My dreams of beautiful little jars of farmer's market vegetables lovingly pureed by mama will, I'm sure, soon be abandoned when mama is not getting the generous amount of sleep to which she is accustomed.

The difficulties of the third trimester, pain of labor, and complications of breastfeeding are all described in excruciating detail in pregnancy books, but the infant’s overwhelming needs are just vaguely, ominously mentioned. I believe it’s true because everyone says so, but I still don’t quite understand how a tiny baby can take up so much time that you have trouble sneaking in a shower. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

In the meantime, I’m treasuring my last months of complete self-determination just as much as I’m looking forward to meeting our baby, who I have come to think of as a pleasant and clever but demanding little creature. A fast walker, I zip past the Bugaboo-wielding moms and nannies in the park. I go to yoga on Saturday afternoon or coffee Sunday morning without having to negotiate with Andrew. Shopping is a snap, not a major expedition. And I cook whatever I want, even if I know it’s going to consume an entire afternoon or move dinnertime back to coincide with the Daily Show. I probably do that kind of marathon cooking only once a month or so, but I love getting lost in the process. Since I’m fairly certain this luxury will not be mine to enjoy for long, I’m trying to enjoy it now.

Sunday was my thirty-first birthday. My mother gave me Tartine, the gorgeous cookbook from the San Francisco bakery, and I decided I had to make the summer fruit Bavarian for my birthday cake. It probably took at least three hours to make and assemble (I’m a very slow cook) before its four hours of chilling. My cake was not as beautiful as the pristine specimen pictured in the book (in fact, "gloppy" is the adjective that comes to mind). Nevertheless, it tasted delicious—but not insanely more delicious than strawberry shortcake, which I can make in about 45 minutes flat.

I mentally reviewed the recipe, wondering if I would bother to make something so involved again, and realized that I had loved every step of it and wouldn’t want to skip a single one: I loved separating and beating eggs for the chiffon cake, I loved making pastry cream for the first time, and I loved trying to build it all into a tidy, closeup-ready cake. Maybe next year I won’t have time to make even a pound cake for my birthday, but I’m glad that this year I got to go all out.

About the author: Robin Bellinger recently escaped a career in book publishing, which was cutting into her cooking time. Now she's a freelance editor and can bake bread on Tuesday afternoon if she feels like it. She lives in Midtown Manhattan with her husband and blogs about cooking and crafting at home*economics.

Summer Fruit Bavarian

- 12 to 16 servings -
Adapted from Tartine

Printed from

© Serious Eats