Listen To Your Gut: A Cake Baking Lesson

I have been busy working on my recipe book, due out sometime in 2012, and on my upcoming workshop series for women.  Maybe that’s why I feel a bit burned out on recipes.  It’s less like writing and more like editing with recipes.   And yes, I know, there’s a lot of editing to do in order to convert my blog into a downloadable, printable, orderable through real paper cookbook.  Perhaps there will be pictures; it’s not really a cookbook without some close ups of roasted veggies and slices of cake.  My favorite food pictures are from my grandmothers 1950’s cookbooks like Good Housekeeping…

Peach Spam Loaf, anyone?

Looks like birthday cake, tastes like sandwich loaf, whatever that is.

A few weeks ago we celebrated my brother’s 29thbirthday.  Brian has been working hard to get Fire Cider in stores all over the Berkshires and since we can’t pay him, or ourselves for that matter, I wanted to make him a really awesome cake.  Certainly cake cannot make up for thousands owed in back pay and expenses, or could it?! That Sunday I started baking the cake around 11 am.  Last year, you may remember the turkey cake he off-handedly, kinda jokingly, slightly sarcastically asked for….

Elise pretends to take the turkey cake out of the oven...

It really was awesome.

What we really did was bake several layer cakes, stick the pieces together with peanut butter frosting into the shape of a turkey, covered the whole thing in meringue and then Dana torched it to a golden brown.

Dana and Elise and I were quite pleased with ourselves.

This year I was going to make sticks of dynamite since my brother had requested a black bomb like the kind in old cartoons.  I thought about that and then decided that was a lot of fondant and who wants to eat fondant?  How about dynamite bundles like they threw around in the loony toons cartoons?

At least the batter looked pretty....

Things started out well but by 4 pm the cake was still rolled in a towel looking a bit overdone and too thick, much too thick.  And then the first frosting recipe failed.  And by failed I mean all the oil separated out and I thought I had ruined 5 ounces of our best chocolate.   Almost, but not quite.

Next, I made fluffy white frosting, added the chocolate that was neatly separated from the other ingredients and then attempted to make three rolls of red velvet sponge cake filled with raspberry and chocolate frosting look like…..

As severed arm?  Intestines, like a cross section?  Do you remember the woman who cut off her breasts and served them on a platter?  No but yes, now I will, forever, thank you Katharine!   I resisted as long as I could but I had to laugh; there was nothing else I could do.  I had spent all day, and it had been a lovely day until I realized I was working on what was now clearly, without a doubt, the least appetizing cake I had ever seen.  Yes, well, I could also cry about it a little bit too.  And sigh and breathe heavily.  So I did, I laughed while I cried and Dana and Katharine nearly fell over each other laughing at my hilarious cake disaster.

Here’s the thing.  It had been a lovely day, literally, sunny and in the sixties, ridiculous weather for 3 days after thanksgiving.  I even went for a run while the cake cooled. And then, at some point, things were no longer going smoothly.  For one thing I had at least once, if not twice, completely ignored my intuition.  And then when things were really going poorly I wanted to blame Dana for it.  Hmmm, that sounds like a bad plan.  Ignore one’s own intuition.  Suffer the consequences and while suffering, try and put it on someone else.  Ok, so the first lesson here, one which I have learned countless times already, but perhaps this will help me remember…


Had I listened, I would have made the cake differently and chosen my own frosting recipe.  And the second lesson is to remember that blame will not get anyone, anywhere.  Accept what is and act thoughtfully.  Truly, we make all of our own decisions and we are where we are in our lives because of the choices we make or avoid making.  And my gut told me to slice the cake into something that more resembled food and less like a dismembered leg.  And as I did I started to feel better and was able to let go of my frustration.  Instead of hanging on tightly to wanting things to go my way, I looked at what was and worked with it.  Much better.  Everyone has an inner voice that has much wisdom for us if only we can be open to hearing it.

I arranged the whirled red cake slices on a big platter and we served each piece with raspberry red wine reduction and whipped cream.  So it worked out in the end that happy birthday was sung at least three times and the last time, for sure, we all certainly meant it!


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Chris Stankiewicz
    Dec 09, 2011 @ 16:45:30

    Brian – why are you soooooo difficult?


  2. Katharine
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 18:30:30

    The lady whose breasts were lopped off and displayed on a platter? St. Agatha, the patron saint of, among other things, baking… You’re welcome. And thank you for making cake. xo


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