Calamitous Cake

It has been a few days since my last post; thank you for your patience! For future reference, I don’t cook on the weekends. At least I try not to. I leave that up to my husband.

Now, for my blog:

Yesterday was a big day for us in the Champagne household. It was my eldest son’s first day of Kindergarten and my middle son’s 4th Birthday! And I had to make the cake.

Let us be clear on one thing… I am a cake-out-of-the-box or store bought cake kind of girl. And even those sometimes turn out wrong, or dropped, or somehow ruined at my hand. I’ve never before tried to make a cake from scratch, so last night’s mess *wasn’t* my fault. I mean, if you’d wanted a nice-looking cake, you wouldn’t have asked me, right?

Ok, now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’ll tell you how it all went down. First, I looked on Pinterest – BAD idea. All the pictures of gorgeous cakes labeled “The best cake recipe ever!!” is both deceiving and insulting. When you try these recipes out for yourself and they end up horrible, it just leads to questions such as “What did I do wrong?!” and “What’s wrong with me that my cake didn’t turn out like the one in the picture? They said it was so easy!”

Needless to say, I immediately turned off my computer and went to my husband’s cookbook (yes, my husband’s. He’s an absurdly good cook – so unfair) and I looked up vanilla cake (which is what my son wanted).

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This is the recipe I used:

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It all started out as planned. I used:

– 3/4 cup butter
– 3 eggs
– 2 1/2 cups flour
– 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1 3/4 cups sugar
– 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
– 1 1/4 cup milk

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1. I greased up my non-stick bunt cake pan (yes, I used it again… couldn’t find any other ones).

2. In a bowl, I stirred together flour, baking powder, and salt. (Note: If you copy this recipe, make sure you mix this in a bowl other than the one you intended on mixing the entirety of the cake in… I had to switch mine half-way through because my other bowl was too small.)

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3. I preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

4. In a (small – oops!) mixing bowl I beat the room-temperature butter (I got tired of waiting for it to warm, so I put it in the microwave for 13 seconds then poked at it with a wooden spoon) with an electric mixer on medium to high, then gradually add sugar, mixing well. (The recipe said to “see picture below”, but the picture was so tiny, there was no way I could see what they meant. So I just assumed I was doing it correctly.)

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5. Mix for 2 more minutes.

6. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg.

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7. Beat in vanilla.

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8. Alternately add flour mixture and milk, mixing slowly in-between (slowly, to keep from spraying flour everywhere. – it is at this point that I both put on an apron and switched from the smaller bowl to the bigger one.)

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9. Mix thoroughly.

10. Pour into cake pan and put it in the oven. (I put mine in for 25 minutes, checked it, saw that it was still liquid, so I kept it in for another 10 minutes… then another 5 minutes… then another 10 minutes… then another 5 minutes… you get the picture. I think it was because I put it into such a thick pan, but I kept having to check it.)

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11. Once it’s done cooking, take it out of the oven and let it cool.

Note: I didn’t know how long this process would take (particularly between parenting duties, screaming babies, and the birthday boy constantly asking “Is my cake done yet?”) so by the time mine came out of the oven, it was nearly dinner time and I hadn’t done the icing yet or even thought about what I would make for dinner.

12. Ease the cake out of the pan upside down. Also note that step 11 is important… As I mentioned, I was in a rush, so I went and did it before my cake had cooled. Then this happened.

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That’s right. Cheri’s disastrous experience with cakes continues… My husband came home a little later and tried to fix it for me. He cut off the top of the cake and stuffed it in the centre hole. It still looked like a mess, but at least it was semi cake shaped.

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Next came the icing. This is the recipe I used:

– 1 cup unsalted, softened butter
– 3 to 4 cups of SIFTED confectioners (powdered) sugar (I used 4 cups)
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
– Up to 4 tablespoons of heavy cream or milk (I used 4 tablespoons of cream)

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This recipe called for a “mixer” with a “paddle attachment” but as I don’t have one, I used my little hand mixer.

The steps:

1. Beat the butter for a few minutes.

2. Add the sifted, powdered sugar and mix (on slow speed) until sugar is fully mixed in with the butter. (I put my apron back on at this point, after having been splattered with sugar butter…)

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3. Increase speed and mix.

4. Add vanilla extract, salt, and the milk and beat. (Recipe called for only two tablespoons of milk to start, then to add more if needed, but I dumped all of mine in – it worked perfectly for me.)

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5. Mix, mix, mix for 3 minutes.

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Next came icing the cake… Now, I’m absolutely terrible at this, but gratefully my babies started crying so I had to go tend to them and left the icing of the cake to my husband. (Huzzah!)

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I didn’t take any pictures of it after it had been decorated (with sprinkles and candles) for my son’s birthday, but this was what it looked like after it had been iced. It wasn’t all that great looking and the centre crumbled out when we cut it, but man, oh, man was it delicious! The cake was thick and moist, the icing was sweet and creamy… mmm… It was a hit, despite my having made a hash of it.

Well, there you have it. My mess of a delicious cake at its end. I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever try to make a cake from scratch again, as it took WAY too long and the cake from a box is so much easier. I think it was worth it, though. Happy 4th to my son!

Thanks for reading!

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