xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Yeah. Good Times.: Birthday cake of doom

Friday, July 22, 2011

Birthday cake of doom

Yesterday was Child 2's birthday, as you know. If you don't.... whatever. Yesterday was Child 2's birthday. And since I'm the best mom ever, I decided to make him a cake from scratch. He doesn't like frosting or anything fancy, he just likes plain old yellow pound cake. How hard can that be, right?

Well, I'll tell ya.

I'm a pretty good cook, but I'm a shitty baker. I mean, I can whip up a delightful Chicken Tikka Masala, but for some reason whenever sugar and eggs and flour are involved, things tend to go horribly, horribly wrong.

That, of course, didn't stop me from downloading a "very simple" pound cake recipe from Allrecipes.com and giving it the ol' college try, whateverthefuck "ol' college try" even means. (What does that expression mean? Is it about blow jobs? Because that's the only thing I can think of that might work there.)

Now, it was the boy's birthday, and he was supposed to spend the day at camp and I was going to spend the day trying to make a pound cake (and also Chicken Tikka Masala!) but when I dropped him off in the morning, he said that his head hurt. And his stomach hurt. And he felt like throwing up. And then it felt like his head was throwing up. And he couldn't go to camp. And he needed to get back in the car and go home with me. And "but it's my birthday!" Okay, I get it. He didn't want to go to camp, he wanted to spend his birthday hanging with his Mama. FINE. I had a meeting so I made him go for the morning and then I went back to pick him up after lunch.

Unfortunately that meant that if there was to be cake making, he was going to have to help me. And, I'm not sure if I've mentioned this about him before, but.... he's really not very helpful. He's been trying to "help" me with stuff since he was about 2, which is so super sweet, and I don't want to tell him "no, you can't help me," but, seriously? Not helpful. At all. Hubs always says that he's "very well intentioned." Usually what I do when he wants to "help" is make up some random, seemingly related activity that will have him running all over the house and out of my way. Like, when I'm folding laundry and he wants to help (read: he actually just wants to build a towel fort), I will hand him single socks and say "go all the way downstairs to the TV room and put this sock on the couch." He will happily run away and oftentimes get distracted by something he finds in the TV room and sometimes won't come back for a good 10 minutes. When he does, I'll be ready with another sock, meant for the kitchen counter. And so on.

This actually looks kind of gross, but it's just the mixing bowl and a pan. Don't get any ideas, perverts!

Anyway, he was helping me make his cake today, which meant he stood on a chair and practically got his fingers chopped off by the electric mixer. Helpful. As usual, since I was trying to, you know... bake something, it wasn't going very well. Sugar was flying all around, chunks of butter were hitting the wall, my arm was getting really sore from trying to mix it and I was imagining that this cake wasn't going to actually turn out very well.

So I says to him, I says:

Me: Child 2, I think you're going to need to lower your standards a little when you eat this thing

Child 2: Don't worry, my standards are really really really low.

Me: Do you know what that means, to "lower your standards?"

Child 2: Nope

Me: It means you're not expecting much. If your standards are low it means you're not expecting to be eating a really good cake at the end of this process.

Child 2: Don't worry, I'm expecting absolutely nothing.

As I start to put the eggs in, the sugar starts flying around less and I start to feel a little bit more optimistic about things, so I say....

Me: Okay, I think you can start to raise your standards just a little bit, this might not be as bad as I thought.

Child 2: In the last few minutes, my standards have raised about 5%.

We continue on, the flour goes in, the cream goes in, it's starting to actually look like cake batter! He looks at it and says:

Child 2: My standards have gone up another 3% since the last time I told you about my standards.

Me: Great! So we're up to 8% now, right?

The mix is done and I, of course, don't have the right kind of pan for the particular recipe that I've chosen, and so I split the batter into 2 unequal and uneven parts. It goes into the pans and we very happily put them in the oven and head off to play Mario Kart while we wait.

Look! Two very blurry cakes in my oven!

About 1/2 hour later.... I start to smell something. A burning smell. Like.... burning sugar?

Oh, god.

I go to check on the cakes and find out that one of them has risen dramatically above the top of its container and is spilling all over the side and onto the bottom of the oven.

Huh. I didn't know it was going to rise like that. It doesn't have any baking powder or baking soda or whatever that "baking" thing is that makes shit rise. I guess the flour did that? Bummer, though. Because that's the one that was supposed to look good and be decorated; the other one was just going to be leftover cake pieces that we would snack on.

At this point I'm regretting having invited people over "for some cake" later in the evening.

The recipe says to bake it for an hour and a half, and I put them both in at 2:00. The skinnier, flatter cake was done after about 45 minutes so it came out to cool. I had to leave to pick up Child 1 from camp at 3:40, so I should still have plenty of time, right?

Yeah, no, though. Since I used the wrong kind of pan it was denser than the recipe was assuming and actually needed longer to cook than that. So when I took it out, it was still totally soupy in the middle. But I didn't really have a choice, since I had to go get the boy, I couldn't just leave it in the oven, I had to take it out. I had no choice! 

On our way out, I called Hubs and ask him to stop at Costco on his way home and buy some of their pound cakes, which I happen to know from experience come fully cooked. And then Child 2 suggested that we put the cake back in the oven when we return. Shit! Why the hell not, right?? And so we did! I left the oven on and when we all got back I put it back in for 10 minutes. I didn't actually know if that was long enough, but I figured I'd worked this poor thing over for so long now I should really just put it out of its misery. And, really, how much worse could things get at this point?

Hey, do you know what's an easy way to clean up the side of a cake pan that's spilled over? You just eat the side right off! Presto chango!

Okay, well.... now they're both out of the oven and honestly, at this point, I've given up on the whole "Mama baked a birthday cake" idea and am just waiting for Hubs to get home, because Hubs? Is a good baker. When he bakes stuff it actually turns out yummy, very few things ever catch on fire and if anybody can salvage this pastry disaster, it would be him. I call him "Master Baker" heh heh heh. (I do, I say "Master Baker" and then immediately afterward I say "heh heh heh.") Unfortunately Hubs has the flu and didn't feel like dealing with my Cake of Destruction. I thought maybe I could shave off the top and have an even surface with which to decorate? But when I did that, and I discovered that it was still totally cake soup in the middle there, Hubs helpfully suggested "maybe you should just shoot it."


I ate the cooked parts and threw away the rest. And then later when I was making dinner? The spilled cake bits that were on the bottom of the oven actually caught on fire. Yes, that's right! I started a fucking fire trying to bake my kid a cake for his birthday.


Here's the cake we ended up with; fully baked, from Costco. I asked Hubs if he would put "Happy Birthday Child 2" so that I could use an undoctored photo for the blog, but he refused. Whatever!