When I lived with my parents we had many traditions for birthdays. In the morning I would be woken up (or pretend to, when I was little my nerves usually would wake me up quite some time before) by all the family singing happy birthday at the side of my bed. Then they would take me (sometimes blindfolded sometimes not), to the kitchen, slowing down on the way in order to light up all the candles before I arrived. When I would get there, a photo of my blissful birthday-face would be taken at the moment I could glimpse at the presents, flowers and the birthday cake at the table.
The kitchen would be decorated with balloons and garlands. There would always be as many candles as the age we were turning and a plate with this number formed by gummy bears. The presents would be packed in colorful wrapping and arranged around the plate with the gummy bears, the flowers, some cards and letters and the cake. First I would blow out the candles and make a wish, then start unwrapping the presents while everybody else was watching. It was a special birthday feeling all day long, I could choose my favorite food for lunch, my brothers and sister were nice to me, trying to fulfill everyone of my wishes, and, when I was a kid, friends would come in the afternoon and games were played, the best one being a complicated hunt for a treasure which my parents made up. I remember one about some blue aliens that left a treasure for us and in order to get it we had to follow their blue saliva traces. These blue saliva traces led us far, we had to take the subway, hints had to be deciphered, surprises like paid ice-cream would be on the way and adventures like entering a house that should be torn down had to be mastered in order find the treasure.
I still have a special birthday feeling on the day of my birthday, as if had swallowed a sunbeam. I’ve never minded the idea of getting older, on the contrary, I like to look back at everything I’ve already lived, but that doesn’t make me want to go back, I look forward to the things to come.
Living since many years far from my family, every year I look forward to a package that kind of contains that birthday table with its presents, the cake and the candles, and convey the sensation of being loved and cared for. Especially with two friends with whom I’ve lived together like a family, we’ve also kept this tradition of taking birthdays seriously alive (see my pistachio cake post for my twin friends’ birthday).
This year however prospects weren’t glorious. I’m working in Geneva for 3 months, far not only from my family, but also from my friends and boyfriend. What would I do here all alone for my special 30th birthday? The answer to my worries came in the form of another birthday present: a flight to Geneva which was my birthday present to my friend Isadora. At first it seemed as if she would have a workshop in Barcelona the days around my birthday, but in the end she could come for my birthday which turned her birthday present also into mine.
She should have arrived at around 11pm, but her flight was late and she finally arrived at 00:26 (from 00:29 on, flights are strictly not allowed to land anymore in Geneva) with some homemade truffles and a candle in her hands, singing happy birthday. The next day we spent talking, going for a walk through the sunflower fields that started flourishing just the week of my birthday and preparing (and shooting) food to take away. My flatmate generously borrowed us her car and we planned to stay one night in the Jura mountains were we were planning to have a very relaxed time swimming in the different lakes, eating picnics, drinking wine and visiting all the fromageries we could find to buy around 15 types of French cheese. What a great birthday!
The cake was at the same time the birthday cake for Isa (as I was here on her birthday and couldn’t make her the cake) and for myself. She loves cheesecake and this is a creamy, fruity and cold version, perfect for summer (while being vegan and raw). It is as good as it looks, and it doesn’t have to be a birthday to make this cake and enjoy it!
For the crust:
- 10 fresh dates
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup oatmeal (or rolled oats)
- a pinch of sea salt
For the filling:
- 1 1/2 cup cashews
- 1/2 cup poppy seeds
- 1 cup berries (fresh or frozen), I used half raspberry, half blueberry
- juice of 2 lemons, divided
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon coconut oil, divided
- 1/3 cup raw honey (or maple syrup)
- 1/3 cup maple syrup (or raw honey)
- 1/4 cup ground almonds
- 2 tablespoons almond milk (or water)
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped
- fresh berries and mint leaves for garnishing
Soak the cashews and poppy seeds for at least a couple of hours or overnight (separately).
Start by making the crust. Just blend all the ingredients in a food processor until everything starts to stick together (if you use rolled oats, blend these and the almonds before adding the rest of the ingredients). Line a spring form (I used 18cm/7”) with parchment paper for easy removal. Slightly grease the it with coconut oil. Press the crust into the form.
So to not clean the blender between the preparation of each layer, start with the white layer by putting the cashews (rinsed), 1/3 cup of coconut oil, juice of 1 lemon, the maple syrup and the vanilla into the blender (the more powerful the better) and blend until completely smooth. Put 2/3 of the mixture into a bowl. Now add the berries to the remaining third and blend again. Put the mixture for the berry layer in a different bowl. You don´t have to clean the blender, it doesn’t matter if there are little rests of the berry mixture, just add the rinsed poppy seeds, the ground almonds, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, remaining lemon juice, almond milk and honey (vegans use maple or agave syrup) and blend until smooth.
Pour the poppy seed mixture over the crust and use a spatula to spread it evenly. Repeat with the berry and the cashew-vanilla layer (the white layer is a little thicker than the red layer, to avoid any mixing, put the cake with the bottom layers into the freezer before continuing with the white layer. I didn’t do that though and it still worked fine).
Put the cake into the freezer to set for at least 1h or until 1/2-1h before serving. Garnish with fresh berries and mint.