Hi, my name is Bertha and I can’t bake a cake worth a darn.
Let me make one thing quite clear before I go any further. I can cook. I am an accomplished cook with many a dinner party, wedding, and catered event to my credit. Aptitude is not the issue here. It just so happens I am not a cake baker. And it’s not like I haven’t tried. Take last year, for instance.
With Buttercup’s autism, I have to be careful not to hang too many decorations in too many different colors because she finds the busy-ness distracting and says it makes her ears “loud”. Last year, I decided I would keep the decorations minimal, the guests limited to family, and make the cake the focal point of the table. After she went to bed the night before the party, I mixed up a box of allegedly idiot-proof cake mix and poured the chocolatey goo into an allegedly easy giant cupcake mold. My oven thermostat and the thermometer I had put inside the oven both registered the perfect temperature, so I slid my confection into the oven. The Yankee sniffed the air, “I don’t even like cake but that smells good for a boxed mix.” I smiled and dreamed of the flower and candy encrusted masterpiece I would present the next day. The timer went off to tell me it was time to check the cake’s doneness. The toothpick came out dripping to I slid the pan back in the oven, after all, the instructions had indicated a 40-50 minute window of time. At the 50 minute mark, the toothpick (yes, a new clean one) came out dripping. The Yankee hung over my shoulder. “That’s weird, Bert. Are you sure it said 40-50 minutes at 350?” I huffed, exasperated. “Yes, I’m sure. Read for yourself.” The new, clean toothpicks dripped at 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, and 125 minutes. At 130 minutes, the edges were beginning to turn an unattractive molasses hue.
I brought the heated pool of lava to the counter and let it cool the requisite hour. As I warily unmolded my doubtful cake, the center jiggled like a nightmarish gelatin mold of childhood Christmas horror at my other grandma’s house. I grit my teeth and said the dirtiest words I could muster. “This frickin fruitin stupid pile of sugar-laden moo moo crud buckets! You’re a flitter-flicker ninny-noodle chuckle snort! Curse you oven of doom and double curse you snardin-gobble-dinger cake pile!!!” The Yankee laughs, “Oh, my ears are burning.” I flash him the eyes of death as he chuckles a hasty retreat to another part of the house.
My gelatinous flop of a cake, and the unfortunate fact that it’s now past midnight, are not going to deter me from making a beautiful dessert for my Buttercup, so I pull out the old cookbook and start mixing. A few eggs, some flour and cocoa powder later, I had another cake in the oven. I crossed my fingers and prayed it would work. At the 50 minute mark, I checked with yet another toothpick and squinted my eyes. It came out clean. I did a happy dance and let the cake cool.
Tomorrow, I would decorate the cake of Buttercup’s dreams. Tomorrow, I would present her with a sugared representation of the sheer depths of a mother’s love. It would be perfection. It would be an unparalleled culinary achievement.
It would be a disaster.
© Bertha Grizzly 2012. All Rights Reserved. No duplication or distribution.