April 13, 2006

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Let yourself eat cake
Where to get a swell slice in southern New Hampshire
By Susan Reilly  news@hippopress.com

When my mother needs a birthday cake, she heads to the local supermarket and asks the bakery to pull one out of the freezer.

She says they look at her like she is crazy but they indulge her despite the case full of defrosted cakes she is leaning against.

The freezer cake is always fully frosted, complete with delicate rosebuds made from solid shortening and sugar. It is ready to be inscribed with birthday wishes. She swears that this results in the freshest and moistest birthday cake.

While this may be easy, it is certainly not better. For something truly fresh and extra special many seek out small independent bakeries.

Independent bakeries were called on mostly to produce cakes special in design, though not necessarily flavor. Remember the popular 1970’s Barbie birthday cake? Barbie stood up to her waist in a mound of cake. A pastry bag filled with frosting turned the pile of cake into an evening gown complete with frosting bustier.

In the Merrimack Valley, however, bakers produce cakes that are tasty delights and feature flavors from the traditional chocolate to wonderfully citrusy lemon cakes and upscale versions of the carrot cake.

The tradition of a birthday cake is rooted in history. The ancient Greeks are believed to be the first to have presented cakes on one’s birthday. The ancient Romans followed with birthday cakes (more like bread) made of wheat flour, honey, cheese and olive oil that were served to mark the ripe old age of 50.

They make the cakes
• Blackberry, 14 East Broadway, Derry, 434-8110. Theme cakes need to be ordered at least 24 hours ahead. Yellow and chocolate layer cakes are available daily in the case. Prices range from $18 up.
• Black Forest Café & Bakery, 212 Route 101, Amherst, 672-0500. Layer cakes in flavors such as chocolate mousse, lemon mousse, white chocolate raspberry and carrot cake. Order 24 hours ahead. Prices range from $20 to $30.
• Bread & Chocolate, 29 South Main St., Concord, 228-3330. Lush flavors range from Black Forest, lemon, chocolate with butter cream and chocolate truffle to carrot cake and raspberry mouse. Prices range from $15 to $23.50. Fresh cakes are available every day in the case.
• Dutch Epicure, 141 Route 101A, Amherst, 879-9400. Always tries to keep both a chocolate and yellow layer cake with butter cream frosting on hand for last-minute shoppers. Other cakes require at least 24 hours notice. Prices range from $25 to $110.
• Frederick’s Pastries, 109 Route 101A, Amherst, 882-7725. If you get lucky they might have cakes in the case. Prices range from $21.50 up. Call ahead for custom orders.
• The Imaginary Confectionary, Hudson, 557-3566. Custom birthday cakes made to order.
• Lala Hungarian Pastries, 836 Elm St., Manchester, 647-7100. Birthday cakes made to order. Flavors include chocolate, Black Forest, mocha and fruit torte. Available in three sizes, prices range from $24 to $48. Order at least 24 hours ahead.
• Madeleine’s 124 N. Main St., Concord, 224-5353. Offers two types of birthday cake. A classic French layer cake made of a layer of cake, a layer of filling and a topping of mousse is $24-$38. They bake this cake a couple of times a week, so you may find one in the case, or you can order ahead. Also, an American-style layer cake in white or chocolate costs $26-$40. This cake must be pre-ordered.
• Michelle’s Gourmet Pastries & Deli, 819 Union St., Manchester, 647-7150. On any given day, a cake of chocolatey, lemony or berry goodness is available for a speedily organized birthday celebration. For a cake made to order (including elegant wedding cakes), discuss flavors, styles and decorations well in advance.
• Patisserie Bleu 215 Main St., Nashua, 886-0007. Birthday cakes are made to order. Allow at least 24 hours notice. Cakes can range from simple tortes to custom designs. Priced from $23.
• Riverwalk Cakery & Coffee House, 35 Railroad Square, Nashua, 578-0200. European-style birthday cakes. Browse the catalog and check out the gorgeous full berry cake or the chocolate-covered cheesecake. This cheesecake is wrapped in chocolate wrapping paper and toped with an edible bow. Order at least 24 hours ahead. Prices range from $40 to $80.


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