Baking is an exact science, which is why you should be impressed by your yummy-mummy friends who bake —especially those with infants and toddlers since they are likely overworked, under-slept and in constant demand.
Try following a recipe suffering from sleep deprivation acquired steadily over months at a time. Then factor in a toddler who can’t stop pressing the button on the water cooler creating your own indoor water park while your four-year old is saying
mommy, mommy, mommy.
I NEED you
I WANT you
And the dreaded
Please WIPE me, I did a PooPoo!
Sometimes I think I ought to check behind their ears for gills given their ability to talk incessantly without ever seeming to stop for a breath.
Sure by all means compliment your friend who served you a roast chicken. Maybe it was a little over cooked but some gravy or a dash of salt will mask many errors. Failing that, copious wine during dinner does the job. But APPLAUD the friend who bakes you brownies, cookies or a cake.
Because this is what could have so easily happened:
It is Saturday and it is my husband’s birthday. He has just come back from a trip and I’ve already failed on many fronts to make it special. I am pretty sure I am in no condition to make anything complex so I tell my 4-year-old that we are going to make Papa some really special cookies for his birthday. She just looks and me and shakes her head.
Non! He NEEDS a cake. We have to make him a birthday cake.
I tried, I really did. I prepared all the ingredients. I set everything up in order. I had my recipe book in front of me and repeatedly referred back to it. Things seemed to be going well. The cake batter looked good. The husband was sent out to buy last-minute heavy cream for the chocolate ganache for his cake. (Please no comment here).
I poured the batter into my perfectly battered cake dish. P was shouting with delight, making up some sort of cake-baking song. I set the timer for 25 minutes and quickly made the ganache.
- Twenty five minutes later, the toothpick is definitely WET.
- Thirty Minutes – Same
- Forty Minutes – SAME
- Fifty Minutes – SAME!!
I try with a knife instead persuaded that the toothpick is the problem. Deluded, I know.
Wet Wet Wet.
And then like an amnesiac having a sudden flash of her former life. I remember that the recipe calls for cooking it in two batches to make a two tiered cake. Holy Molasses, how did I forget that?
Another 25 minutes go by and I’ve pierced this cake so many times, It is more sieve than sponge. A last attempt and the knife looks clean. I start to feel relieved, even impressed that I’ve managed to pull this off and no one will be the wise. Little did I know that I happened to hit one cooked part. With hindsight, probably cooked from all the piercings. As I un-mold the cake I find a part where the batter looks rather doughy. Christ, are you kidding me?
The voice inside my head:
Shite, it STILL isn’t completely cooked. How is that possible?
Wait, no, it’s ok. The icing will cover it. The kids won’t know the difference. It’s kind of like raw cookie dough. I love raw cookie dough. I wish I had raw cookie dough right now instead of this stupid cake
Wait, am I going to poison the kids? Didn’t they say that raw cookie dough was dangerous? They could get salmonella or something? How fresh are my supposedly organic Thai eggs? Do I risk it? Will I get stuck in the legendary Bangkok traffic in a cab with two vomiting kids? I know, how about I stick it in the microwave…
Three random microwave cycles later since I am clueless as to how one uses a microwave for anything other than popcorn.
It is as raw as it was before and the rest of the cake is looking increasingly dry like the Sahara. How the fuck did I get myself into this situation? I didn’t even want to make a fucking cake! Ok ok… stop, breath, think. I know, I’ll use the heart & star shape cutouts and make mini-cakes and ice those. This is going to work out.
The cake is of course way thicker than the shapes; it is after all a double-tiered cake in one. I persevere. I am determined to salvage my unwanted cake sans-meltdown. I use chopsticks to push the shape rims down. It’s a disaster. The edge at this point is so dry it starts crumbling away. I keep at it. I am savaging this cake. This cake looks like an antelope being torn apart by her second round diners. Don’t believe me? Look for yourself:
The mini-cakes, well they were pretty disastrous too as they were small and crumbly and impossible to ice. I just ended up putting large dollops of dark chocolate ganache on top —the one thing that turned out ok— and let the kids and my husband smear it across their faces while I downed a pint-sized glass of red wine.
The award for worse cake ever can be sent to my attention at Baan Suan Maak, Bangkok 10120. And next time a parent-friend bakes for you, double up on your appreciation please.
Sorry to laugh at your baking disaster but you’ve captured the panic & fury of cake fail so well. If it is any consolation we’ve all been there [and baking is my most favourite thing to do!].
Thanks! I’ve never been a baker myself until recently. I think I always feared exactly this but again, a glass of wine makes anything go down! So glad you got a laugh out of it. That makes it all worthwhile.
I have to bake a cake for an evening we are invited to tomorrow. My husband just volunteered me. I don’t mind normally but your post has made me anxious!
Oh nooooo! I am so sorry. I am sure your cake will be spectacular but failing that, I always find it is a good idea to have bakery addresses in my contacts for a last minute ‘dépanage’. Good luck and let me know how it turns out!
Lol, I shouldn’t laugh but that was brilliant!
yay, Laugh! Laughing is the best. I am trying to cut the turn around time between my regular disasters and laughing at myself. If I can make a sufficient number of people laugh with this, then it will turn into the best Birthday cake ever – well to me anyway, probably not my husband!
Haha! My husband’s birthday was the 12th of this month. He got his cake on the 22nd. The first year we had a child (four years ago) he got the cake on May 12th. Other years he has had a cake on time, but the first year of marriage, for example, I used a mix someone sent me (so it should be easy, right?) but forgot the EGGS. It was falling to pieces but still edible. I justify the first two because I had a new baby both years and nobody ever bakes ME a cake… and the third because I was a newlywed and still learning to cook.
All I can say is…I’m much better with cookies and muffins and things. And cooking regular food. I hope your husband appreciated the effort, anyway!
(re your last post, i just remembered that one of my daughter’s made up terms we use is “running shirt” for her (and all) sleeveless undershirts.)
That reminds me, I found a stack of WRITTEN birthday cards for my brother and his family dated a year ago. I still plan on sending them. I totally ascribe to the better late than never. Obviously it helps if the recipient is still breathing. My husband was a total sweetheart. More than appreciative.
I feel so bad for you, but I’m sure your husband appreciated your effort for a special birthday for him. Maybe the cookie idea wasn’t so bad at the beginning!
Oh dear! What a mess! But you have such a funny way of telling your stories, any disaster turns into good fun :) And I admire your resourcefulness! I would have just thrown in the towel when it wouldn’t cook through!
We’ve all been there. Even those of us who like to bake (and are generally good at it). I once decided to make an extra big cake for a friend’s bridal shower, so I increased the recipe by 150% but still used the same two cake pans. Nightmare! It exploded all over my oven. I had to start all over again. But first, I had to clean the freaking oven. Yuck!
Tee hee! Hooray for chocolate ganache–it solves everything. (Nutella comes a close second, in my opinion.)
I was so traumatized, I didn’t dare back a cake for P’s birthday but ordered un-frosted cupcakes and got toppings for her and her 3 friends. Then I realized I needed to make frosting… Nutella came in very handy there!
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