Italian Cream Cake

I'm still working one day a week at the local megamarket.  In the bakery, we have a an Italian Cream Cake that sells fairly well.  What makes me cringe, however, is what I have to tell people when they ask me if it's any good. 

"Oh, I don't like Italian Cream Cake, so I wouldn't know."

What bullshit.  I love a good Italian Cream Cake, although it's difficult to find one that's not dry and tasteless… like the one we sell at the megamart.  Since I can't come out and actually say that ours is a nasty pile of shit with a greasy shortening based icing, I have to weasel my way out of answering the question by using the line above. 

Luckily, my boss at the cafe has a recipe that she's known for, and she was kind enough to give it to me (besides the fact that I have to use it to make our Valentine's Day cakes–she also gave me permission to use it personally and professionally).  It's wonderful, moist, flavorful, and not too heavy.  I admit I made a few small changes to it to reflect my tastes, but it's a huge hit with my family and friends.

For her birthday last week, my Mom requested the cake below.  I was only planning on doing a top border and a single rose, but then for some reason I went nuts and added a side ribbon, more roses, and a bunch of rosebuds.  Because it's top-heavy, it kinda looks like a squished down mushroom.  Mom loves the fruffy stuff, so it was fine.

I have another one to make tonight.  I'm taking it to a friend (a local bread god) on Monday who's going to give his professional opinion on whether it's as good as the one they make a Central Market.  It took me a while to convince him that I want him to be completely honest with me.  After all, if I'm being humored, how do I know what needs to be fixed?  And I have no intention of being second best, no matter how long it takes.

Ok, that sounded a little arrogant, but that's the best description of how I feel.  For most of my life I coasted along the road of adequacy, but for some reason the culinary world has brought out a new competetive side of me.  Maybe it's just early menopause….

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