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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cake Conundrum

The Cake Conundrum – by Deborah Miller-Lutz

I can say with utmost confidence, that you, as I, have experienced days or relationships or impulse buys which are preempted with the thought, “This is NOT going to end well, but I’ll give it a try any way.”
‘Twas the case with the cake (from here out to be referred to as T.C.F.H. – or – The Cake From Hell) that was made for Russell Roosma’s birthday…

8:45 p.m. Thurs. evening prior to Russ’ birthday: Anna calls, Deb ignores first call because she’s in the middle of a show and she has a semi-conscious cat on her lap.
8:46 p.m. Thurs. evening prior to Russ’ birthday: A very persistent Anna calls back and I (insert older sister, Deborah) bolt from the couch – this must be important – I mean, who double calls at this time of night if it’s not at least semi-important, right?
Call goes something like this:

D: Hi – What’s going on?
A: (Slightly weepy/frustrated sounding) So, it’s like Russ’ birthday tomorrow and I’m trying to make his cake and I have to work tomorrow in Seattle so I have to sleep and the recipe said that I could triple it and then pour it in to four containers and – Oh, I mean, do you have a 9” pan I could borrow?”
D: Umm, let me check. (Shuffle…Shuffle…). Yeah. Not so much.
A: (Sigh that can be heard in Mt. Vernon) Dang it! I’ve already asked two neighbors and been to Fred Meyer’s and you don’t have one…
D: Can you use a sheet cake, like, thing?
A: No. This has to feed 20 people and the recipe is for 9” rounds. I already made one cake, and then poured the rest of the batter into this other round…And I’m not sure how it’s going to turn out…What do you think I should do?

O.K. – So here’s where I should have had my clairvoyant powers workin’ and answered, “Sister – Get as far away from that cake as you can, and run like you’re on fire!” But I didn’t, so this is what happened…

9:30 a.m. The next day: I get up - ready to take on the challenge laid before me. And I’m not trying to sound like a martyr here – I took this on of my own accord, and happily. Getting ready, I didn’t put much effort into my appearance, and left a little while later for Freddie’s to get more baking chocolate.
10:45 ish Think to self: Should I check the Craigslist house I might want to rent, before heading up the hill to Anna and Russ’? Well, I really have to use the bathroom, but I’ll swing by real quick and their place is only a couple of minutes away.
10:50 ish Can’t drive fast enough to get up hill to A. and R.’s place…a new sense of urgency has hit my bowels.
O.K., back to the cake. Call our mom to find out 'Does she have a 9” cake pan?' Then, my mom – unbeknownst to herself – informed me that not only did she have a 9” pan, but had willingly agreed to being sucked into a dark chocolate vortex.

At moms, she and I gathered the needed pans. Well, we first looked at the recipe to make sure we were grabbing the right pans. The recipe was not your usual ration recipe; it was meant to be tripled. So, mom says, OK – if it calls for 2 x 9” pans plus x 2 - couldn’t we just use 2x12” pans? What??? It is was too early for math, and let alone conversion geometry. Hey, just point me in the direction of the kitchen and let’s start making the danged cake already!

First point of digression, apparently I had gotten the wrong kind of chocolate; non-sweetened cocoa is NOT, I repeat, NOT the same as unsweetened cooking chocolate. I don’t know! I mean, they were right by each other in the baking section! So, mom now has to go to the little store out in Sudden Valley to get the correct type of chocolate.
When she gets back, she explains that the only cooking chocolate that they had was an exotic and organic type which is way over-priced. In other words, it’s a major rip off. I mean, really – unless this chocolate is coming from a two acre cocoa field near the lost Aztec cities, hand ground and packaged by beautiful, goddess-like virgin descendants of said Aztecs, it’s really not worth it. But what are you going to do?
So, mom and I get down to business. Flour, check. Eggs, check. Over-priced cocoa, check. Etc. Key ingredient: Egg whites folded gently into batter. And then the un-doing of the hard work: Mom accidentally over-beat the egg whites which made them slightly watery. We thought we’d try to fold them in, anyways. Um, not happening. I am sure I heard Julia Childs turn over in her grave.
This was the perfect example of the snowball effect, because guess who needed more exotic, over-priced cooking chocolate now that Batter A was ruined…Uh huh. Not kidding.
6:00 p.m. So, the end of this tragedy goes something like this: Cake is made - cooked to perfection, frosted to perfection. We are just as proud of ourselves as ever. It’s now ½ hour before we are supposed to be downtown for the party. I still look like a cross between one of Martha Stuart’s minions and a homeless person. Mom’s going to be responsible for getting T.C.F.H. to the party, I am going to run and get ready and meet her there.
6:30 p.m. Arrive at party. Greet everyone. Answer Anna’s question – where is the cake? Don’t worry it’s on its way, mom has it. Phew.
6:40 p.m. Mom arrives with our “masterpiece.” Anna turns pale and has look of shock and awe on her face. “What,” she asks, “is that?” “Why, it’s the cake, of course!” We answer. “What happened to there being multiple cakes (I think there were supposed to be three) like I asked???””
Mom and I just break down into delirious laughter. Howling laughter. Our cake is almost a miniature of the Eiffel Tower it’s so tall and distinct. We thought we’d done a darn good job balancing it all!
Once Anna got over the shock and disappointment of it all, we sang to Russ and attempted to cut the cake. Which was like trying to cut a three-layer cake: pretty much impossible…(But, truly, pretty funny).
In the end we all had cake, and mom and I had laughed so hard all day that our bellies hurt. And that, my friends, is the story of the Cake Conundrum.


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