Birthday lasagna and donuts

Namine’s birthday is in a few days, but we made her birthday meal of choice tonight.

When Jessica first asked Namine what she would like for her birthday, meal-wise, she said “chicken noodle soup.” Of course we know how much she likes a good noodle soup, but… that’s not a birthday meal. And of course she was welcome to choosing anything, anything at all, for her birthday meal. But we encouraged her to think of something else. Something, I don’t know, richer? More flavorful?

Namine gave it some more thought, and she decided on lasagna. My Sicilian grandfather would be proud. Well, I know he is, because he told her so when we brought him a pan.

Namine and I brought my grandparents some after we had made a bit too much lasagna.

While the lasagna was in the oven, we made our dessert for the evening: cake donuts.

Some time ago, we’d gotten a donut maker. We don’t use it all that often, but every time we do, I wonder why we don’t use it more.

We made enough white cake batter to split it into two bowls, one of which we made into chocolate cake. My favorite was when we made half-and-half donuts. Those were delicious — I would have happily just eaten the batter.

After we’d used up all the donut batter, the lasagna still had some time left in the oven, so we moved on to making marshmallow fondant icing. The fondant wasn’t for tonight, though; it’s for the cake which Jessica and I will be making for Namine’s birthday.

If you’ve ever watched baking shows like Cake Boss (of which Namine is a huge fan), you’ll know they’re quite fond (heh) of fondant, which they use to sculpt and mold the outside of cakes. Unfortunately, fondant tastes pretty gross. It looks pretty, but that’s about where its usefulness ends. Jessica had a recipe for a marshmallow fondant, though, reputed to taste much better than the more common marzipan variety.

Jessica did all the work up to the point where the fondant needed to be, um, kneaded. Namine had been asking to help, and teaching her to knead was the perfect point at which to involve her.

Wrapped and refrigerated, the fondant would keep for weeks. (We won’t need it that long.) But our timing could not have been better; we had no sooner finished making the donuts than the lasagna was finished baking in the oven. A little bit of grapes and some juice, and we had ourselves a perfect dinner — dinner and dessert, all made at home, all made together. There’s nothing finer.

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