Delicious demonstration takes over library

Have you ever been to the library for a cooking lesson?

Libraries have really changed since my childhood days. All kinds of family activities happen there.

Several gathered at North Shelby Library on July 14 to observe lab coordinator Emile Boackle of Jefferson State Community College. He assembled a gorgeous strawberry cake, in the style of Chef Mitchell, program director for the campus Culinary and Hospitality Institute, and this event.

It’s summertime, and thoughts turn to fruity desserts. Many fruits are readily available, including blueberries, peaches and blackberries. But strawberries are attention–grabbing bright red, and just tart enough to bring balance to sugary desserts. They seem a favorite at family reunions, holiday picnics and poolside parties.

Now anybody can throw pre–baked cake shells, prepared whip cream and berries together and call it a dessert. But in the realm of chefs one must excel, provide a work of art worthy of having your name attached. And the end result must be tasty.

With Boackle’s demonstration, we learned how to assemble a breathtaking cake, step by step. Here’s how:

Slice one frozen yellow cake layer in half crossways, making two equal layers. Place one layer on plate and wrap clear acetate (from a cooking store) frame around layer, taping in place. Brush simple syrup (1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar heated to boil and chilled) on layer. Place lengthwise-halved strawberries upright side-by-side on edge of layer, cut side out, stem end down. Place whipped cream (whipping cream, powdered sugar, vanilla whipped together until fluffy) in a pastry bag, squeeze in circles over base layer, between each berry; add more cut strawberries on top of whipped cream. Add next cake layer, pressing gently down; brush with more simple syrup. Select uniform size berry halves, and place pointy end out on top layer. Spread more whipped cream in circles and mound up. Sprinkle some berries on top to decorate. Chill in refrigerate two hours; remove acetate ring, and serve.

This class ended the 2009 Adult Summer Reading program, themed Master the Art of Reading, which also included a knitting loom class, flower arranging, fitness for seniors and a photo contest. If you missed the fun this year, then plan ahead to be involved next time a class appears on the library schedule. See Northshelbylibrary.org for information.