Back in 2002, the summer we moved into our finally renovated 1920’s house (all remodeled by family and friends – it took over a year) we had a big barbeque to thank everyone who had a hand in helping us. We had close to 100 people there, and we had such a good time that when the next summer rolled around, we decided to do it again.
And thus began the Annual BillHilly Bash.
I used to work with a very swarthy Italian man. He always wore designer suits and instead of washing his underwear and tees, he just threw them away every night and bought new ones. Don’t ask me why I knew this, it was just a rumor that he did not deny. But I digress. His English was certainly good, but he carried it with that thick southern Italian accent – Sicilian maybe? – and some of his colloquialisms came out a little skewed. One day he was enraged at his dining room staff, probably for coming in late or not at all, and he was in a tirade. Half of what he said was in English, the other half Italian…but the part I will never forget is when he called the whole lot of them BillHillies. BillHillies. So that’s what I am, too…and so are my friends and family. We’re an elite crowd, folks. E-Leeet BillHillies.
This year we had a crowd of about 75 or so. Good crowd! it’s also the first year I have had my catering business going, and I stupidly booked a picnic to cater earlier on the same day nearly an hour away. But thanks to my Mom and my new friend Sue, everything went off without a hitch. Everyone got fed, everything was on time, and nothing ran out.
It was a little more formal looking this year since I had all of my own chafing pans – these really make a picnic buffet look a lot more polished. Wish I had bought those things years ago! I kind of went with a subtle farm theme as it is also the party where we celebrate Seven’s birthday, and that boy is somekinda big into tractors and cows. So we had hotdog buns in a straw hat, silverware in John Deere containers, a Bluegrass band, and the biggest cake I have ever made with little barnyard finesses all over it.
This cake was another first for me – it was stacked, tiered, and actual CAKE. The cake competition I won a few weeks ago was a dummy cake, which is a lot easier to deal with. Dummy cakes don’t smoosh. They are perfectly level. You can pick them up and handle them…unlike real cake. So this cake was a bit scary. So scary, in fact, that I begged Carrie of Fields of Cake for assistance via Twitter. Where do I put supports? How many? What would you do? Blah Blah Blah. This kind lady was nice enough to give me her phone number, and I did call. So strange to step out of the computer once in a while and hear an actual voice that goes with a Blogger. I may have to do this more often. Thanks Carrie for all of your advice!
By the time Saturday afternoon rolled around, I had the two bottom tiers iced and decorated. The top layer was baked, but not yet iced, so Sue – that new friend I mentioned earlier – iced it for me. Sue and I met online as well, as she was one of the first Baking GALS ever. She’s been baking along and mailing cookies to the troops every month since we started! She, like me, lives in the great state of Virginia, and although she lives about 4 hours from here, she came all the way to our party! (It was so great to meet you, Sue…and thanks for ALL of your help here in the kitchen!)
So the cake. I’ll admit it…I am darn proud of this cake. The other cakes I have done I’ve liked, but this one – well, I loved it. It was huge. I made all of the little animals out of fondant, as well as the fence and the Seven Banner. Everything else was buttercream. The inside though, was amazing. The bottom level was a lemon and cream cheese cake with a whipped cream, cream cheese and strawberry filling. It was super tasty, but my real love was the next layer.
Chocolate. Milk Chocolate Cake with a layer of caramel, chocolate mousse and tons of Snicker bits. Oh. My. God. This is possibly my new favorite cake EVER. Those little bites of Snickers were incredible. Like Holy Crap good. Not your typical 2 year olds birthday cake at all. I did, however, make a standard little FunFetti type cake for the kiddos, and that was out top level. Not that the kiddos around here seemed to mind the more “adult” layers – I think they all ate some of each flavor!
All in all, it was a great party, with great friends and, yes, great cake. I hope you had a great weekend, too!