Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cake Mania + "Worst Chef" in Training = Lessons Learned

Last night I got a wild hare up my "aspic" and decided that we needed a cake to brighten up our ghetto hovel of an apartment. Besides, it would give me the opportunity to use about 50 of the gadgets so graciously bestowed upon us for the wedding. Of course it wouldn't be exciting at all if there wasn't some kind of mayhem let's get started.

Dinner of Jonathan's less-than-the-desirable-amount-of-onion stew was served up and devoured while listening to the inane ramblings of the AT&T associate trying to upsell us on cable when we only called for a password reset. Wow, was that a run-on sentence? Anyway, I was craving something sweet. I have been all week. Seeing how we blew through all the Christmas candy already I had to be more creative. I dove to the back of the pantry to see if I could rustle up some old cake mix or brownies. Nada. *grumble*

I threw open the cabinet of cookbooks and pulled out the Williams Sonoma Yellow Cake recipe that accompanied a lovely set of 8" round cake pans so generously given to me by a coworker. A cursory glance at the ingredient list and away I went, sifting flour here, measuring carefully there.

Following directions. That was the #1 lesson on the last Worst Cooks in America. I double and triple checked the measurements, and I think I did pretty well...except for the butter and sugar. Two lessons were learned last night: Butter takes forever to soften at room temperature even if you chop it into smaller blocks. Melted butter is almost just as bad for your recipes. It makes your pastry not as fluffy. So when a recipe says, "ingredients at room temperature" don't get cocky. My frozen ice-block butter got pseudo-chewed up in the blender. I ran some scalding water on the outside of the bowl to try to help soften. Didn't work too well. Then came the sugar. The recipe called for 2 cups. All my measuring cups were dirty, save a 1/2 cup scoop. So I carefully scooped, leveled each scoop, then slowly added to the mixture approximately 4 times. I say approximately because J distracted me in between what might have been the end of scoop 3 and I might have thought it was scoop 4. So I'm not really sure if 2 full cups made it in. It takes all my mental energy to cook, distraction derails the tiniest of details. how my milk was yet again expired. I did, however have powdered milk, which I mixed with water to make a milk-like substance. I think that it may have contributed to the texture of this cake, which is pretty dense. Moving on.

I carefully grease and flour the pans, carefully halving the batter into each pan. Then I notice a glop of something in the bottom that isn't moving. Re-enter the ice-butter. I try to mix in the butter/sugar blob conglomeration into the remaining batter in the bowl and pray for divine intervention. You see, I'm what Chef Robert Irvine calls "a hider". I attempt to hide something that doesn't come out right or pretty. Chef Irvine will find out! He will smash you with his giant, meaty biceps which he got from tenderizing sides of beef by hand. Fear Chef Irvine... *cowering under my mom's butcher block*

"I will kill you with this whisk!" -Imaginary Chef Irvine in my head
So now I slap my pans into a horrible oven WITH NO WINDOW OR LIGHT!!!! God, how I hate this oven with knobs so old the temperature markings are half rubbed off/covered in some toxic goo from previous tenant. Not MY toxic goo! I swear! Scout's Honor! We have been doing dishes religiously with the help of a glamorous pair of dish gloves given by gingerific gal pal Sam. Thanks to her, I can now do dishes with minimal gagging. Sort of. See here's proof:


The next thirty minutes are spent pacing anxiously...

Finally, it is time to pull out the cakes. Per the instructions, they were cooled in the pan on a rack. A rack, might I add, that has followed me through at least 4 apartments and never been used. I racked and waited some more. Patience is a virtue, and has it's benefits. Behold a kitchen miracle...

Dear Williams and Sonoma, I love you.

So now comes another period of waiting until the cake cools completely. I give up on the waiting game and go shower. I come back afterwards and feel the cake is sufficiently cool. Is it truly cool? Not sure, it was after 9pm and I was ready for bed so I was forging forward regardless.

The next step is to cut "the dome" off the top of the tops of the cake. Good thing I had these awesome Wustof knives from Williams Sonoma. Serrated blade away!  *saw saw saw, slip* SHIT!

"Jon HELP!!!! No not me, SAVE THE CAKE dammit!"
I'm not allowed to use the knives anymore as I sawed a nice gash in my finger that didn't stop bleeding for like 30 minutes. Thankfully, no cakes became a biohazard. J took over the rest of the cutting whilst I donned a big bandage.

After the bleeding was contained, I set about to stacking and icing in my pjs. I laid down wax paper and iced on my beautiful cake pedestal...from Williams Sonoma. Here's the final product, yellow cake like grandma used to make. I was filled with glee, despite looking like a mad woman.

FYI- the caking was f-ing delicious.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm. "Ghetto hovel of an apartment" does NOT get me interested in being your neighbor!!


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