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Last minute lemon cake

The phone rang at 11:30am a week ago and a new customer asked if I could have a cake ready for 3:30. He wanted to honor his mother’s birthday. She would have been 72. He decided on a lemon raspberry celebration cake and twenty minutes later, a cake was in the oven.

With so much fear, anger, sadness and uncertainty in the world right now, celebrations, no matter how small, offer a sense of hope. Two weeks ago, a mother called from New Jersey and asked me to deliver a birthday cake to her daughter in Biddeford Pool. A dad from Connecticut wanted to surprise his son with a special cake for his birthday and first day at a new job. A college roommate asked me to deliver an elopement cake, cookies and balloons and the bride was “flabbergasted.” Last week I took a 60th anniversary cake to Old Orchard Beach, a thoughtful gift from their son in New Jersey.

Back to the cake. My favorite part of making lemon cake is putting sugar and lemon zest in the bowl and letting the mixer run while I gather the rest of the ingredients, prepare and pans and pre-heat the oven. The kitchen smells great. I always add a few drops of Boyajian Lemon Oil to the batter to boost the citrus flavor. Last week I tried to order a new bottle from my regular retailer and they were out of stock so I went directly the Boyajian website to see if I could order from them. Their customer service rep noticed I had placed a big order and after checking out my website, contacted me and offered to set up a wholesale account. Now that’s terrific customer service.

Once the cakes were baked, I perched them in front of the window to cool down and then put them in the fridge. An hour before the customer arrived, I split the layers, spread them with my house made raspberry jam and frosted the cake in lemon buttercream. I tossed some berries in gold dust and finished the cake with a message plaque.

At 3:30, the customer called from our parking lot and I took the boxed cake out to his car, setting it in his trunk for curbside pickup. Later that night, I got this lovely message:

“ What a surprise to see the skill of your craft when opening the box. We all enjoyed the lemon raspberry cake! … Thank you! I'm glad I searched on the internet yesterday and found you. I appreciate how quickly you turned around my order. Roland.”

It was my pleasure, Roland.

If you’re planning a celebration, no matter how small, or would like a cake delivered to someone special, I hope you’ll reach out. Call, email or check out my online store. A portion of proceeds is being donated to the Biddeford Food Pantry. No one should go to bed hungry.


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