Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cake Wars

Real talk here: I'm not about to start calling myself Betty Crocker by any stretch of the imagination, but in general, I'm pretty decent in the kitchen, especially when it comes to baking. I'm not the world's most intuitive cook, but give me a recipe or some basic directions and what comes out of the oven is probably going to look and taste basically like it's supposed to.

I'm in a play right now and have rehearsal three nights a week. One of those nights - tonight - is Tim's birthday. So I planned an early dinner at a place he really enjoys but that we rarely visit because it's out of the way and not really my cup of tea, but the problem remained with the cake. I had planned to bake it with the girls this morning, but then realized that we were probably going to have to do the whole cake singing extravaganza after lunch in order to get to dinner on time. Plus, I have Baby G today. I decided to make the cake after rehearsal on Tuesday and make the frosting with the girls in the morning.

I got home around 10:30. By the time I had straightened up a little, assembled my ingredients and said goodnight to Tim, it was 11. I pulled out the recipe and realized that I had very little cake flour.

Now HERE is where I should have stopped, decided that I could hit the supermarket in the morning and just called it good. But no. That would imply a degree of reason and forethought that I just don't possess. Well, no, to be honest, I did consider that possibility, I just rejected it outright because I had decided to bake that cake right then, dammit. Instead I went online and found a web site that would give me the cake flour to multipurpose flour ratio and converted away.

I should have known something was up when the cake batter seemed too thick. It was almost...gelatinous? I have no idea. "Cake is done when the top is springy and the edges are pulling away from the sides of the pan," said Recipes for Dummies. Pulling away? My batter seemed loathe to even touch the sides of the pan. It jiggled and mocked me as I attempted to spread it. SPREAD IT. When was the last time you had to spread cake batter? But it tasted okay and it smelled fine - amazing, even - as it baked and in the proper amount of time it rose and looked just great, so I considered the whole thing a success. I pulled the cakes out of the oven and waited for them to cool a bit so I could pop them out of the pans.

Oh, right, that takes a long time and here it was around midnight. I sat on the couch and surfed the Net. My eyes got heavier and heavier. The pans were still warm. Finally I just covered the pans with Saran Wrap, put them up out of the way and fell asleep.

You can see where this is going, can't you? This morning when I went to pop one cake out of the refused to budge. At all. Even a little. I ran a knife around the edge over and over. Tried again. Nothing. Turned the pan over onto the desired surface and gave it a good hard whack, trying to evenly distribute the pressure over the bottom of the pan.

Three pieces of cake fell out, one big, two small. I glared at it, then at the pan, where a sticky film of cake clung stalwartly to the yes-I-DID-grease-and-flour bottom. I decided that would be the bottom layer. 

The second pan yielded worse results, if that was possible. 

"DAMMIT!" I yelled. A little blonde head peeked around the corner, just up from bed. Tim came into the kitchen behind Mary.

"What happened?"

"YOUR CAKE FELL APART AND I DON'T HAVE TIME OR INGREDIENTS FOR ANOTHER," I ranted, dropping hunk after hunk of cake into a large mixing bowl. "I can't frost it, it's too dense, and I ruined the whole thing."

"It's fine," Tim said, trying to hug me and backing up when he caught the look in my eye. "It's FINE. We're still going to dinner, we can do cake another time..."

"Mommy next time it'll be fine!" Mary chirped. "We can make it again. I can help you! We can try it again and I'll help and then it will be-"

"Mary, don't talk to Mommy right now," Tim advised sagely. 

"Your cake is in a bowl!" I raged.

"Yeah but it still tastes good," he said, helping himself to a small piece, then a larger one. Mary, and now Anna and Lily, eyed the bowl. I gave up and put a small piece on three small plates.

"Cake for breakfast," I sighed. I sensed a trip to the grocery store for an ice cream cake in my near future.

"YAAAAAAAY!" Mary and Anna squealed. 

"I like bowl cake," Tim said, wandering off to get ready for the day. "Let's have it every year."

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