My mother's birthday is within days of Christmas. Not the best time of the year to have a birthday, being so close to a holiday.
For years my Grandparents made sure my mother always had a good birthday, and that she always received at least one gift, along with having a special dinner.
This year, however, they aren't well, and I knew that if I didn't do something, my mother would not get her traditional dinner of Hawaiian spare ribs and rice.
Now it isn't my fault my mother chose to have prime rib instead of spare ribs. Can you blame her?
I did, however, make her the cake she has had for years: an angel food cake, layered, with a lightened custard, served with strawberries.
I've watched my grandmother make this cake for years, so I knew what to do, but still made a few modifications. My grandmother always bought the angel food cake, I made mine from scratch. My grandmother used Birds Eye Custard powder, lightened up with whipped heavy cream, I made a pastry cream, with lots of vanilla bean seeds in it, lightened up with whipped heavy cream.
My mother would have been happy if I'd have just given her the cream and a spoon.
It isn't fancy. Actually, when put together, it isn't even pretty. But it sure tastes good.
We had to cut our visit to my mother short (I'm sick as can be, still, and really not looking forward to trying to work tomorrow,) but at least we were there long enough to carry on some of the birthday tradition.
1 angel food cake (store bought is fine, if you don't want to make your own), cut into three layers
1 recipe for custard, below, cooled
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp sugar
Sliced fruit of your choice (my family has always used frozen strawberries, defrosted with a touch of sugar, as well as canned, sliced peaches in light syrup, though I admit I skipped that this year.)
Whip the heavy cream with the sugar and vanilla until it is light and fluffy, being careful not to over whip. Fold the cream into the custard, until well mixed.
Place the bottom layer of cake on a large platter, one that will contain the custard that will fall off the sides of the cake. Spoon 1/4 of the custard on top of the cake, spreading slightly. Repeat with the next two layers. Use the last 1/4 of the custard to try and "ice" the sides of the cake.
If there is any left over, place it in the middle hole of the angel food cake.
Or use your fingers to lick the bowl clean.
To serve, put a slice of cake on a plate or in a bowl, and top with your choice of fruit.
(I know, it's pastry cream, but my grandmother calls it her custard for her banana cream pies, and who am I to argue with her about it?)
1/4 cup corn starch
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups milk, scalded
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp vanilla (or the seeds of one vanilla bean)
Mix corn starch, sugar and salt together in a medium pot. Gradually add milk. Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until all the sugar and cornstarch has been dissolved and the milk is hot.
Add a ladle full of hot milk into the eggs, whisking constantly to temper the eggs. Whisk the egg mixture back into the hot milk in the pot. Continue to cook for approximately 5 minutes, still stirring, until the mixture is thick and smooth.
Remove from the heat and add in the butter and the vanilla, whisking well to incorporate.
Allow to cool to room temperature.
To use for banana cream pie, pour into a pre baked pie shell that has been lined with slices of banana, then top with slightly sweetened whipped cream.