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A Všechno Nejlepší (Happy Birthday) Surprise for Sarah!!!

By Elizabeth Weinstein, Emory University

Last Thursday was Sarah’s 21st birthday, which meant that we needed to celebrate and she needed a cake.  Jessi and I had thought about baking her a cake for her birthday and maybe making a box mix/typical birthday cake. But Jana, who loves to cook and has many great Czech recipes, decided that if Sarah was having a birthday in Prague then she needed a Czech cake. Jana suggested that we bake her a honey cake and surprise her. So, as Sarah left to go to her birthday dinner Thursday night, Jessi, Jana and I got busy in the kitchen.

Earlier in the day, Jana had actually already started the cake by making the dough (it takes a few hours on the stove) beforehand. Luckily, Jana always has some sort of interesting dish cooking on the stove and Sarah had no idea that the brown mush was actually her birthday cake. While the stuff on the stove cooled down, we made the cream that would go in between the layers of the cake. Once the cream was ready and the dough was cooled. Jana gave us each an empty wine bottle and a slab of dough. The wine bottle was to be our rolling pin and the dough was to be made into a circle.


Jessi rolling out the dough

(For some reason I was really bad at this part. So, for each circle I made, Jana had to fix it to make it the right size and shape).


Jana and Jessi hard at work - I was busy capturing the moments on camera

Once, we had rolled all the dough into these flat circles. We had to bake each one for about 5 minutes.


Jana taking the cooked dough out of the oven

Now that all the pats of the honey cake were ready, it was time to assemble and decorate!

On a plate, we first put a layer of the cake, poured a few drops of rum on it, put on some of the cream, sprinkled some broken pecan pieces, and then did it again until it looked like this…


It was at about this point in the baking process that Sarah got home from dinner. We sat in the kitchen and debated whether to just invite her in and surprise her and let her help us or help she doesn’t notice the smell of honey and cake and all of us in the kitchen. We decided with the former, since Sarah went straight to her room to get ready for the night. Now and then she would come out to talk to us or ask us about her outfit, so I made sure to go to the entrance of the kitchen or walk out in the hallway to talk to her when I heard her coming so that she would not actually go into the kitchen.

The cake was almost ready…we just needed to grate some of the leftover cooked dough on top of the cake…


Add some candles and a 21…



And now it was time to turn off the lights and invite the birthday girl in!!!! (but first, we made sure to ask Jana how to say the happy birthday song in Czech…if she was going to have a Czech birthday cake she needed us to sing happy birthday to her in Czech. Well, after we struggled to say just “happy birthday” (“všechno nejlepší”) we decided to ditch the song and just go with that.


všechno nejlepší!!!!


And it worked! Sarah was surprised and amazed by both the cake and Jessi and me saying “happy birthday” in Czech.



After a picture with our masterpiece, we finally got to taste it and it was delicious!!!                                  


Dobre Chut! (bon appétit in Czech)


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