Too easy?

I actually used my camera for this pic. Pretty good, eh?
          It feels like I haven’t posted in a while. Feels like I haven’t baked in a while. Feels like .  .  .  man,  I’m lost. And I’m off-balanced. This is crazy. Who would’ve guessed, right? That by not baking something that is destined to go horribly wrong, you can mess up your whole inner, subconscious to the unconscious cycle. (Okay. Just then, did I sound like a genius or an idiot having fun with big words? . . Darn it.)

         Well in a way, I’ve been saving my baking-energy for this explosion of desserts I’ll be making for my older brother’s 18th birthday. *fake sniffle* He’s growing up so fast. My big brothie. *wipes imaginary tear* Busy brainstorming all the different kinds of desserts and keeping in mind time, energy, and the fact that we don’t want to serve too much chocolate, I forgot a very special event. .
         My grandmother’s birthday.
         Doh. Does this make me a horrible granddaughter? Um, maybe. Does this mean I can’t redeem myself with an O-mazing cake? Not exactly. Ah-ha! Light at the end of the tunnel. Time to get busy.

         Luckily (well, for me, that is), she had a dentist appointment the morning of her birthday. Since she lives with us, this gave me time to bake a cake as quickly as possible, frost it, and toss some sprinkles on before she came home.

         My first decision was what kind of pan to use. For regular cakes, we generally use a rectangle pan. It’s simple because we pop it in the oven, take it out, let it cool, frost it, cut, and serve, all inside the handy dandy pan. But it doesn’t really look good, presentation wise. So I used a circular pan. It’s actually the mama-bear medium-size of a three-pan set. When used properly (which I doubt I’ve ever done), they’d make a three story cake, looking like one you’d see a little kid draw with the base the largest circle and the layers shrinking the higher you go. I took a second to think over splitting my batter between, maybe the mama and baby bear sizes, to make a two story cake. But I had done that before and it usually ended up as two, very thin, layers with an even thinner coating of frosting. No. Using just the mama bear pan would work.
         It didn’t take me long to follow the instructions on the Pillsbury cake mix box. Hey, don’t judge. Like I said, I didn’t have much time before she came back to bake AND decorate it. Using a mix was a necessity.
         Classic yellow cake with vanilla frosting. She’s not a chocolate person. In fact, she’s the first one to groan, “oh no, chocolate?” after just about every one of my baking experiences. So this one was all hers. Vanilla, vanilla, vanilla. According to the box, it would take around thirty minutes to bake, so I washed the dishes.
         I know. “Aww, what a wonderful little dear you are, washing the dishes. [Son or daughter] why don’t YOU do that?” Don’t elbow your kid, just yet. Sadly, (and it is a darn shame) I can’t take the credit for washing the dishes. Actually, my day to wash dishes was the previous day. But I didn’t do them so they spilled over into my brother’s day. The only reason I did them first thing in the morning was because I didn’t want to get stuck doing my dishes, his breakfast and his lunch dishes. The threat of having more work is a lazy bum’s motivator.

         I was just getting started on the silverware (the last stage of my dish washing cycle) when the oven rang. But the second I touched the pan the batter jiggled. Hmm. That wasn’t right. I couldn’t remember for the life of me how long I set the timer for. It had to be about twenty minutes since I was almost done with the dishes. I set the timer for seven minutes. Halfway done with the utensils, it rang again. The cake wasn’t jello-y anymore, but the center still wasn’t cooked all the way. Something else that worried me was that the top was a dark brown. A little more and it could burn. Did that mean I should lower or raise the temperature? It was just by providence that the phone rang. It was my dad. He told me that, if anything, I should lower the temperature, but it would be better if I left it in the oven for a little longer. He was right. About five minutes later, I poked a toothpick in. Clean as a whistle.

         When I was finally done with the dishes, I found a nice circular plate, placed the cake on it, and released it from the pan. Yet another cool thing about these pans is that they have a buckle-type-thing that pull away the sides. It’s a little hard to explain. But there are two pieces: the base and the sides. And when you unbuckle the side, it expands, leaving the cake and the base behind. That’s my best description.

         I used a leveler to . . . level the cake. (Bet you never would have guessed that.) I don’t know when we got this thing. If you’ve never seen it, it’s like a stretched out “U” with a metal string running through it. One of those insanely simple looking tools that make your life so much easier. Why did I level the cake if I’m not going to layer it? Well, the center was caved in slightly. I wanted the cake to be perfect.

         Done leveling with the leveler, I made a discovery. (You’ve probably already guessed this.) And yes, the cake wasn’t done. In my defence, though, the darn toothpick was clean. I poked it in the center twice and on the sides before taking it out of the oven. Clean! I took my lying toothpick for a second test run and poked it into my now-level undercooked cake. Still clean. Who knew that small wooden sticks could sin – repeatedly. It has been condemned to the inner darkness of the trashcan.
         To save this very sad cake, I took a glass cup and shoved it in the center. I imagined the cup cutting out the squishy middle like a perfect little cookie cutter. I’d pop it out and voila, a hole. Well, that didn’t really happen. I more like smushed the cake, but I did have an outline of a circle that I followed as I scooped the rest out with a spoon. Voila, a hole.

         I got a text that they’d be home in a couple minutes so I had to work fast. I scooped a lump of frosting on my new bunt-cake and coated only the top. (Which, I later found was a good thing because my grandmama isn’t a big fan of frosting.) Then, after much mumbling and grunting as boxes and containers fell from inside the pantry, I finally found the sprinkles. Took even longer to find the candles, which are never where they should be. But everything worked out beautifully. She was pleased, and surprisingly, no one asked how I made a bunt cake without a bunt pan.

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