Not quite a cake wreck, but close


I haven’t posted a food/cake story in a while. There will be more from the career-flip and dating aspects of life. For now, revel in my weekend of cake misfortune.

Super Bowl Sunday of 2010, I experienced another manifestation of “pride comes before a fall.”

Be assured that I regularly experience a good dose of humility every time I participate in choir at All Saints. Sounds can quickly disintegrate into “Tone 9” with an undefined ison as soon as I start thinking, “Hey, this is going pretty well today!”

But in February, humility came in a different form: an 8-inch, 2-layer chocolate cake with made-from-scratch caramel pudding filling. After Christina’s baby shower, her sister asked me to make the cake for another woman’s baby shower. I had a glorious design idea, thanks to some extra cake at Christina’s shower.

I wanted it square in two layers with some fun flowers and elegant top and bottom borders. It would then be surrounded with small square portions of cake decorated like baby blocks. In my mind, it was the cutest thing ever!

Then I start making the cake. Hazel Shank with her rich chocolate coupled with rum and espresso hints was making its excellent flavor appearance. I made a caramel pudding filling.

A baking first: I got to melt sugar.

Look what happens after a few minutes, but you must stir constantly.

And here are the elements right before they are whisked together into a glorious medley.

Sigh, my first lesson. The first pudding was of utmost smooth and thick consistency, except I didn’t stir the milk and cornstarch well when it was heating, therefore I had bits of extra jelled and darker pudding floating in the mix. I debated for a while on whether or not to make a new batch, eventually deciding to eat the first attempt while making the second batch. But for round two, I must not have boiled it enough because it was much thinner. This came back to haunt me in about 12-24 hours.

I also had some crisp edged cake issues. To be completely honest, in my efforts to not burn the cake, I in fact did burn the multiple layers. I went with cream cheese icing this time thinking it would be a good change from the butter cream. I got all the parts ready in my kitchen and had pre-arranged to assemble, ice and decorate in Champaign-Urbana.

I will spare you the “in the mean time details” of decorating in Anna’s kitchen, assembling woes, lamenting the non-purchase of decorating equipment, and other events. Before I just explain my humbling cake, let me remind you that I had burned cake, thin filling, and not-as-stable icing. Here we go…

Exhibit A: Finishing the cake at the shower.

I was kept up the night before with icing. And my over-estimating ego said, “All you have to do is slap on a border and put on some flowers.”

Never mind that I still needed to tint the icing and smooth the cake, et cetera, et cetera.

Exhibit B: The actual cake

Let me give you a tour around the cake board. The two-layer cake was supposed to be one block, until the previously mentioned cake over-baking incident. I cut the most-burned layer for the blocks and decided that the other “well-done” layer needed trimming. “No worries,” I thought. “It will be just a cool ‘tiered’ look” I wasn’t anticipating the caramel pudding layer and the softened cream cheese icing to work in conjunction and cause the top tier to slide so it was almost flush with one side and definitely off center. The bottom border was okay, except the cream cheese icing started its demise. I thought I could cover the tiered accident by giving a middle border.

By this time, the cream cheese icing was seriously melting, thus causing the pointy stars on the side. Mission hide the mistake: FAIL.

Exhibit C: Notice the top and how it ISN’T smooth?

I decided that I would just have to live with that. I could not live with two large craters in the top of the cake. Don’t see them?? First rule of cake decorating: cover up mistakes with flowers and frosting. And the roses? Well, I had just learned how to make those a week or so before. My yellow icing was a bit on the stiff side, so they came out with ruffled edges, yet people liked how “realistic” they looked. I’ll take it!

So, my idea of cute baby blocks off to the side of the big cake was a great concept but complete FAIL. The icing wasn’t going to work with me and I was running out of time; the games portion of the shower was almost finished. Therefore, I slapped some roses and bow ribbons on the top, gave the bottoms a decent border, and sucked up my expectations and ideals.

I promised the ladies that the cake would taste MUCH better than it looked.

Angela and guests agreed. They are so forgiving.

Which is good…I needed a lot of mercy and grace for that cake.

Please don’t report me to Cake Wrecks.

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