Birthday in Morro Bay

Week 2 found us in Morro Bay, one of my favorite stops on the Northern California coast. Tuesday was Kristin’s birthday, so in addition to my regular work routine there were also preparations to be made for a celebration. As I had collected all of the ingredients for a dairy-free chocolate cake in Monterey, I saved some time in the afternoon to make a birthday cake. This by itself was an adventure as I cannot remember the last time I tried to bake a cake, let alone in Sonrisa’s propane-fired oven.

It’s always an adventure trying to follow a recipe using the provisions you have available onboard. Often recipes call for a bit of one ingredient or another that you will use for nothing other than that particular recipe and the remainder will either go bad or take up space in the cupboard for months before going to waste. Like many projects onboard, it relies on the art and science of substitution using what you’ve got. I halved the recipe to fit the pan (it was after all a cake mix, so don’t give me too much credit) and used avocado oil instead of vegetable oil and greased the pan with coconut oil rather than shortening. Once the cake was in the oven I closely monitored the temperature using the old-school oven thermometer I got before leaving. It was a good thing too. I found that the oven was about 25 degrees (F) hotter than the dial indicated and it took some finesse to keep the oven at the prescribed temperature for the cake. Once the temperature settled in I let it bake and patiently waited. As it neared the prescribed time on the recipe I became a bit concerned that the cake looked a bit like a volcano about to erupt. The 1-inch ring of cake around the edges of the pan was definitely cake-like, but the center seemed to be bulging and oozy. I poked it with a toothpick and it came out a little wet, so I let it bake a bit longer. A few minutes later the toothpick test came back clean, so I pulled it out of the oven and using our metal dish rack as a cooling tray held my breath and flipped the pan over. Success! Amazingly the cake popped right out of the metal pan and looked perfect as it sat on the cooling rack. No char, no lumps, no goo!

For her birthday dinner (take-out) Kristin chose Cuban from Milanés which was right across the street from the yacht club. She offered to pick it up which gave me the opportunity to pull her presents out from hiding and ice the now-cooled cake.

When she returned the cake was iced and looking delicious, her presents were on the table and everything was set for a special birthday dinner.

Dairy-free chocolate cake for Kristin

Kristin had Lechon Asado which was a delicious marinated shredded pork. I had the Bistec de Pallomilla which was a marinated flank steak with a delicious garlic and olive oil citrus sauce Criollo Mojo.

Kristin trying out her new mask and snorkel for her birthday

Most importantly though, the cake was amazing. I do think that the avocado oil gave it an extra buttery flavor that may have otherwise been missing. I’ll admit it was a bit stressful to have the responsibility for Kristin’s birthday cake. She takes her desserts very seriously and has a taste for fine chocolates. Nevertheless her birthday cake got rave reviews serving after serving!

Happy birthday Kristin!