Sunday, September 6, 2009

Fail Cake


Or should it be Cake Fail?  Either way, it's a disaster.  Delicious, but still in ruins.  Kind of like life sometimes, when it is crumbling apart around you, but still holding on to surprise goodness when you least expect it.

I offered to bake a cake for my son's friend's birthday.  He wanted chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate, and Pikachu on top of it.  No problem.  I bought the Pikachu toy to put on top of the cake, and didn't even consider making one out of marshmallow fondant.  Well, only for a minute.  Then I bought the toy instead.  I didn't want to spend hours rolling and dying fondant only to end up with a mutilated Pokemon that no one would recognize.  I wanted everyone to know it was Pikachu, and for me to focus on the cake instead.

I used to bake cakes all the time, and decorate them, too.  I can do this, I thought.  Okay, so it's been a few years, and I knew I would need to dig around in the kitchen and possibly the garage for all my baking paraphernalia, but it sounded like fun.  A creative outlet, something nice for someone I care about, and the potential for several forks full of yum.  Win-win-win!

That's not quite how it happened.  Friday night, I dredged up so much baking stuff that it made me want to concoct yummies for a week, in all different shapes, sizes, and flavors.  I had forgotten how much kitchen stuff I have!  I haven't used it in years.  So I washed the pans, set out the non-perishable ingredients, and dismissed the thought that I should bake the layers of chocolate fudge cake the night before and freeze them overnight.  I was too tired, and my feet hurt.

So I woke up early Saturday morning, eager to begin the baking experience.  All went well.  The cakes were in the oven, the homemade fluffy chocolate frosting was licked off a spoon by myself and my son, and the fudge filling sat in a bowl, ready to become the cake's luscious secret.

When the kitchen timer went off, my son ran down the hall and alerted me, and then stood next to me as I took the cakes out of the oven and we both almost fainted from chocolate fume overload.  Life was smelling pretty good.

I placed the cakes gingerly on the racks to cool, and waited over an hour.  That should be enough time, right?  They didn't feel warm anymore.  I forgot that I wasn't exactly dealing with pound cake, and that the consistency of the cakes was, well, chocolate fudge, as in, very moist.  And crumbly.  This is exactly the reason why you are supposed to freeze the layers before attempting to assemble the cake.

Upon transfer to the cake base for frosting and carrying purposes, the bottom layer broke in half.  No problem, I thought, after batting back tears.  I can fix this.  The fudge filling served as a glue to keep the two jagged pieces together.  Problem solved!  I was on top of the world, or at least, this cake.

Next, the perfect, whole, top layer.  Careful, careful, almost there, and BAM!  Top layer in a million pieces, crumbs everywhere, sitting on top of the fudge filling.  I held it on with both (clean) hands, and tried to squeeze, pinch, and rearrange it so that it was still circular.  That didn't work.  I then attempted to smush it into the fudge filling and hold it still while wielding a rubber spatula with the other hand and pressing my precious homemade frosting firmly against the sides of the cake.  That just causes mush in the other direction.  So I put more frosting on the other side of the cake.  And on top.  And then all over the counter, when it fell.

I knew I couldn't present this cake at the celebration today.  I knew I couldn't present this cake to any discerning human being.  If it wasn't chocolate, I would have given it to the dogs.  I was shocked when my son asked for a slice.  I explained that the only way I could serve it was by scooping it onto a tilted plate and mopping up what landed on the counter.  He was fine with that.

He said it was the best cake he has ever eaten.  It's just ugly.

I guess that kind of sums up my baking experience for now.  I won't be creating anything in the kitchen again anytime soon.  I can't handle this kind of disappointment on a constant basis.

I guess it kind of summarizes life, though.  Just when you think all is going well, bam, a cake falls on you.  Sometimes it's chocolate, and sometimes it's mud, and the only way you can tell is to taste it.  I'm glad this one at least tasted good.

9 comments:

  1. I give you credit for even baking a cake. I am terrible when it comes to that stuff!

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  2. I recently lost my baking mojo big time. I don't know what gives. I measure, double check everything, check the baking temp, have replaced various ingredients... you either have the magic that day or you don't!
    But luckily, most disasters are still tasty ;)

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  3. It sucks when things don't work out. *hugs* At least you can bake. I fail when it comes to that, period.

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  4. Aw heck, who cares how it looks if it tastes yummy? Kids usually don't mind looks as much as adults. Maybe there's a life lesson in that? :-)

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  5. Sweet that he loved your cake. I'm sure it was yummy! :O)

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  6. You should see the pictures of the pirate ship cake I made, that turned out to me more of a pirate shipwreck cake. If it tasted great, that's what counts!

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  7. Kids have a wonderful way of putting things in perspective. :)

    *hugs*

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  8. From one baker to another, there are times when that box of Duncan Hines is the best way to go. But leave it to a kid to see what is the essential part--how it tasted. A.J. might be interested in the cake I've included in the Appendix of MG mystery. Google it. It's called a Litter Box Cake. No self-respecting grown-up can eat it, but third graders LOVE it!

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  9. I love litterbox cake! And thank you all for your support! It was ugly and delicious. :)

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