Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rowena, This Cake Is Delicious!

Eleanor, Chrissy and Janet's ex-roommate, visits the girls en route to her new digs in San Diego. Recently divorced, Eleanor's predicament causes the pair to pay more attention to her concerns than those of their current cohabitant (Jack). Noticing the cold treatment, Larry, Jack's best friend, convinces his bud that the girls want Eleanor to move back into the apartment. In spite of his impending eviction, Jack volunteers to bake a cake for an upcoming party supposedly celebrating Eleanor's return. The conniving chef adds one special ingredient to the batter: sawdust. At the fiesta, the girls stunningly surprise Jack by revealing the true purpose of the get-together: his passing the chef's entrance exams. After the sharp 180-degree turn, Jack quickly dashes thru the apartment and knocks tainted cake out of the guests' hands. He fails to reach Mr. Roper, the tightwad of a landlord, in time, but the unknowing splinter swallower exclaims: "Jack, this cake is delicious!"

Even without sawdust as a key component, Rowena's has been crafting gourmet treats since May of 1983. Founded by Rowena Fullinwider in Norfolk, VA, her business grew from a word-of-mouth concern to coverage in national magazines like Southern Living and on television programs such as "Today," "QVC," "The 700 Club," etc. Though Fullinwider eventually sold the company, her deft and decorative touch still colors the acclaimed cakes, curds, jams and sauces. Among Rowena's salivating sweets: Lemon Pound Cake, Chocolate Pound Cake, Tea Cake, Chocolate Mint Cake, Chocolate Turtle Cake, Raspberry Curd and Carrot Jam. Fullinwider's original creation, however, has remained the top seller since the nascent days of backyard fruit trees and a singular kitchen.

On Halloween Eve 2011, a nine-months-old Rowena's Almond Pound Cake was retrieved from the bottom of a garage freezer. Undoubtedly, the beautiful presentation of black polka dots on the label and a red ribbon had drawn a few whistles from the hamburgers and mixed vegetables. Fine lines and a bundt shape also added to the attractiveness. After transferring to the minimum security of a kitchen fridge, the cake was released onto an adjacent table and cut into several slices. The Jolly Green Giant might've been enamored with Rowena's physical attributes, but one bite into the Almond Pound Cake caused me to break an unwritten Eleventh Commandment by straying on Sara Lee. Of course, I had spent many a moonlight lip-locking SL's pound cakes and dessert cups in the form of strawberry shortcakes, but my first rendezvous with Rowena's was like performing cunnilingus on a confection. Several testimonials stated that freezing the cake increased its moisture. After greedily lapping at my portion, I was very inclined to agree with the chilled M.O. Sara Lee had never been so rich and flavorful to the tongue. Besides getting a window seat, my favorite thing about childhood trips to New Jersey via Piedmont's planes was the pack of almonds emblazoned with the airline's logo. Unlike the smokiness of Piedmont's nuts, the almond effect in Rowena's cake had a smoother take-off from the runway -- which was better suited for the craft in question. I combed the cabinets and closets for the highly recommended Lemon Curd topping, but the quest came up emptier than Geraldo Rivera's vault search. Here's what commenter Cynthia Waggonier had to say concerning the curd: "Who knew what Lemon Curd was, anyhow? OMG, it's like luscious lemon meringue pie filling that you can have anytime you want (and don't have to bake) – heavenly on that pound cake!" Crud, I've got no curd! I do have access to a toaster and vanilla ice cream, though. Perhaps there'll be a partnership with the final two pieces of Rowena's Almond Pound Cake. Most likely, they will be savored in stand-alone succulence and left with Lemon Curd longings.

If Helen Roper's first name had been Rowena, her husband Stanley's favorite pie would've been custard.