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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Chocolate Ugly Cake

Don't ask me why I thought of this story. I think it was this post I ran across while catching up on my blog reading for the week that made me think about baking.

I do not bake. I can make a lasagna that makes my husband's toes curl, which was genetically shared with me from my Italian mama. (Genetically shared, not taught. She wouldn't let any of us girls in the kitchen because she was afraid we would ruin her kitchen or burn the house down. I left for college in a very confused state over how to make a grilled cheese sandwich. Seriously.) But I really, really do not bake.

John's mom, in her Perfect-Suzie-Homemaker fashion, bakes with the best of them. And she was always making these beautiful concoctions of confectionary architecture that belonged in Better Homes and Gardens. And for the time when John and I stayed with her after Ev's pregnancy ruined us, she would do so for every meal. And while it was delicious, I was so stinkin' jealous.

One day I decided I was going to make dessert for once. I'm a smart person. I figured I could figure it out. There was, however, no way in Hades that I would attempt the "from scratch" part. I enlisted the help of Betty Crocker, but I wanted to make a chocolate layer cake. And so I baked the two round layers. The problem is that nobody told me that you only have to use one box of mix and divide it among the two layers. So I used two full boxes of cake mix. In other words, I made the huge cake. Enormous. Paul-Bunyon-sized. So big that the massive cake server/ saver thingy didn't fit very well over it. But oh, well. Too late to turn back.

So I had to ice this damned thing. And I got the chocolate icing and spackled the layers together (or whatever you call that step). Now it was time to get started on the outside. Usually, my icing jobs look atrocious, so I was pretty pleased with myself when it started turning out nice and smooth. But then something started to happen...

Why in the hell was the top layer sliding off like that, creating this massive chocolate-cake avalanche???? Oh my God, make it stop, make it stooooooooooppppppp! And before I knew what was happening, there was chocolate icing/goo/ sludge all over everything. On my hands and arms up to my elbow. All over the counter. All over the front of my shirt. And my smooth icing job on the outside was having strange things happening to it: huge chunks of cake were breaking off onto my spatula so it was more like I was caking the icing instead of icing the cake.

Turns out you do not try to ice a warm cake. Especially one that large and out-of-balance.

Nothing I could have done would have saved the monstrosity. Nothing. The huge layers slid all over, so that it was hard to slide the lid of the cake saver over it. So it had big hunks of cake clinging to it. It was horrible.

No one would eat the cake.

Except for John. (Thank you, John.)

And Evan was just a newborn, so I was fresh into New Mommyhood. And I started to have visions of Evan trying to take cupcakes to school, and all of the other moms telling their kids, "Don't eat that. That Andrea-person made it!" And I cried. And cried.

And the harder I cried, the more John gushed about how delicious and moist the cake was. And went back for seconds of it. And if I recall correctly, even thirds. And he named it. "Andrea's Chocolate Ugly Cake".

Then and there, one year into our marriage, I knew he was a keeper.

This is why, when a situation calls for it, Evan takes the largest, most pimped-out cupcakes to school.

From the best bakery in Cincinnati, not from my kitchen.

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