Last year for Ryan's birthday, I attempted a dark-chocolate layer cake. The cake collapsed in the middle. So my fix was, I made out of those "coffee mug cakes", cut out the collapsed goo, and put the "mug cake" in the hole. Ryan thought it was a "special layer" cake - and it was a win-win!
So as you can see, cake baking maybe isn't my strongest? But I like to think I'm good at it. Because I love to cook and bake.
So there I was Thursday night. I was at a HH for work, and ran into one of my girlfriends. We were planning a surprise 40th bday party for our friend Amber. I asked if she needed help with any last minute details, and she asked if I'd be able to take care of the cake!
Famous last words....
"I'd be honored to take care of the cake!!! Awesome!"
The party was Saturday night at 7 pm. I had to have it done by 4:30 pm, as we were responsible for getting the bday-girl out of the house for the party!
Here are the 3 phases in this process.
Phase 1: "The Happy Baker"
Friday night I had the house to myself. I came home from a long day of work. A rule in my house, is I cannot bake unless the house is clean. It's probably a superstition. But I just can't get in the mood with a messy house. So I took to scrubbing, sweeping, and dusting! Then grocery store. By 8:30 pm, it was time to start baking my cakes.
I was making a layered Dark Chocolate Cake with a Nutella frosting.
When the cake came out of the oven, I wasn't impressed. The consistency didn't make me happy. I hadn't stirred the cake well enough. (this is such a tough concept, because when baking a cake you don't want to stir too much! As it over-activates the gluten. Or something fancy like that...)
But it was late, I was tired, so I chose to get some shut eye, and try again tomorrow.
Phase 2: "The Concerned Baker"
I started my morning at 6 am with a long run with the b-day girl. During this run, she has no idea I'm making her cake. She starts to vent about the fact that she never got a cake on her 40th birthday - and "the cake is her favorite part of birthdays"
No pressure, right ;) ?! Cue mild sense of panic.
So after run and puppy class, I tackle cake #2. This time it's going to turn out perfect.
Except it didn't. It 1st started bubbling over, and spilling over. The oven started to smoke, because of cake batter boiling on the bottom of the oven. I pulled out the cakes, and they had collapsed.
**Cue angry baker.** Cue baker who throwing mixing spoon and says "How the hell can I not get this right?!?! WTF am I going to do?"
**Cue giggling husband in the other room**
Here was what I had:
This picture doesn't even do justice as to how screwed up this poor cake was...
There are 3 cakes in this picture, because the 4th cake was folded up into a "taco" in a crazy fit of rage, offered to my husband, and thrown in the garbage.
Now most sane people would call their local baker. But I'm just too stubborn. So onto cake #3.
Phase 3: "The Freaking-the-f&*%-out Baker"
After I calmed down, and realized that getting angry won't make this cake turn out. I decided to regroup, and try a different recipe. Now this is a risk, but it was a risk worth taking.
And, boy, was I overwhelmed with relief when the buzzer went off, and my cakes were evenly beautiful. I cracked open a celebratory IPA at this point. And sent my Mom a text. Because through all 3 phases, my Mom was talking me off the ledge. I don't know what I'd do without her!
I whipped up my Nutella frosting. By the way, this is my new favorite frosting ever. It tastes like Nutella fudge...
It's no "master-decorated cake". But it was tasted good. My birthday girl was pleased, and it was a party hit! And above all, I learned a lot of lessons about the science behind "cake baking"! I am confident next birthday that rolls around, I will have this down!!