The last time I made a proper cake? Six and a half years ago. July 29th, 2008, to be exact.
Scott and I were celebrating our first wedding anniversary. Because we had been married in Washington State but were living in New York, shipping the top-tier of our wedding cake across the country so we might enjoy it after 365 days of wedded bliss just didn’t seem worth it. I deemed it best to take matters into my own hands.
I attempted to recreate–from scratch–the pineapple cake with raspberry filling and whipped cream frosting we had enjoyed on our wedding day as a surprise for Scott. As we celebrated at dinner, I insisted skipping the desert menu. “I’ve got a surprise back at home…” I hinted.
“Please tell me you didn’t pay to have the top-tier of our wedding cake shipped all the way out here?” he pleaded.
“Of course not!” I scoffed. “Trust me…this is going to be way better than that.”
When we returned to our apartment, Scott’s reaction to my labor of love was somewhat disappointing.
“Katrina,” he snickered, “Why in the world did you bake us a redneck fourth of July cake?”
“Huh?” I responded with shock and embarrassment.
“I mean….I love Amurica as much as the next guy…but is this, like, a joke?”
As I stepped back and reassessed my baking handiwork, I realized Scott was right. The three-tiered confection was severely lopsided, and the haphazardly applied whipped cream frosting was…well…sweating. Profusely.
While I had planned on decorating my creation with fuchsia ribbons and hydrangeas–just like our original wedding cake–the strawberries and blueberries we had in the fridge seemed a little more economical. As I looked at the rapidly melting glob of icing decorated with a smattering of red and blue fruits, I realized I had mistakenly baked a very sad-looking American flag.
The worse part? My flag tasted even sadder than it looked.
Fortunately, Scott was able to salvage the evening. He suggested we put on our very best redneck attire and pose for some humorous photos with the cake and a giant pair of knives. Much to our dismay, the photos were lost in a tragic memory card accident, but I assure you–they were magnificent.
After Scott deemed our photo shoot sufficient we tossed out the cake and drove down the street for some ice cream.
I’m sure you can see why I’ve been too afraid to try my hand at cake baking ever since.
Sure — I’ve made several batches of box mix cupcakes. Even I have a hard time screwing up Duncan Hines Funfetti. But as Scott’s 31st birthday approached, I knew the time had come for cake baking redemption. This was going to be my year.
Every year, Scott requests a German Chocolate cake. The man loves him some coconut pecan frosting. There’s only one problem: Other than Scott, no one actually likes German Chocolate cake. Every year, I bake him a giant batch of his favorite cupcakes, and every year, approximately four of them get eaten. This leaves us taking home 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes that are inhaled by yours truly within a matter of
days hours. Do I like German Chocolate? Not particularly. But if there is cake lying around the house, I will demolish it. It’s like…a law of science or something.
Last week, our neighbor was kind enough to bring us some extra carrots from his garden. I had planned on juicing them until in the middle of shampooing my hair one evening, it hit me like a ton of cream cheese frosting.
I was going to create a made-from-scratch carrot cake for Scott’s birthday!
Scott approved the idea, and I immediately got to work. After hours spent researching possible recipes, I decided on this cake and this frosting. I mean….a carrot cake with pecans, raisins coconut and pineapple? Scott was going to love me forever!
Early Saturday morning, I set out to pick up my ingredients. An hour later I spread everything across our kitchen counter, preheated the oven, and took a deep breath. This was my chance to annul the Amurica cake of 2008.
I sifted flour, shred carrots, and boiled raisins in orange juice like it was my job. When Scott passed through my workspace tossing out condescending tips like “You know you have to mix the wet and dry ingredients separately, right?” or “You didn’t forget to grease and flour the pan, did you?” I resisted the urge to bite his head off and simply smiled. It was his birthday, after all.
It took me seven long hours. (Part of that was a three-hour nap…but still.) After an entire afternoon of slaving away over a hot stove, I was left with this.
Fine. That’s not my cake. It’s Martha Stewart’s. But it was my inspiration. My version ended up looking a little more like this.
First, let me say that this is an extremely flattering photograph. In person the cake was lumpier, more lopsided (Scott absolutely insisted on three layers), and generally disheveled-looking. Thank goodness Instagram photos don’t just make your selfies look better — their magic airbrushing powers apply to cakes, too!
That being said, the cake was delicious. Delicious. Like…possibly the best thing I’ve ever baked. Most importantly, it was certainly enough to redeem me from the American Flag catastrophe. Scott’s reaction?
“Wow…this doesn’t taste messed up at all. I’m pleasantly surprised, Katrina.”
Underwhelming, but I suppose I’ll take it.
The only downside? I doubled the cream cheese frosting recipe, which turned out to be completely unnecessary. I’m now left with a giant Tupperware of icing in my fridge just begging to be spread over graham-crackers and eaten in secret. Having made the frosting myself, I know exactly what’s in it. This pretty much eliminates the possibility of any “Oh I’m sure it’s not that bad….” ignorance that comes with eating store-bought icing out of the can with your fingers while watching an exercise infomercial.
Uh…not that I’ve ever done that or anything.