Post # 11 Let ‘Em Eat Cake

June 25, 2012 at 7:05 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 11 Let ‘Em Eat Cake

I love cake.  I mean, I really love cake.  I totally identify with Marie Antionette and wish she’d been talking about me when she said “Let them eat cake.”  The only cake I ever met that I didn’t like was made with sugar syrup instead of sugar and was a moist, sodden mess.  But I ate it.  Had to.  I was a guest.

I often wonder how things got started.  Who was the first to do something.  For instance, how hungry must that first person have been to look at an oyster and think “I could eat that.” ?  I wonder who was the first person to grind wheat so fine that it was flour?  Then who added a little water and a little heat to make a flat bread?  Who let it sit out to develop some kind of leavening so that it rose and became bread?  Who thought to add eggs and sugar and make cake?  I’d like to give them a medal.

I don’t remember the first time I ever ate cake; who does?  But I certainly remember the last time I ate cake.  It was last week.  I made a devil’s food cake with chocolate fudge frosting from scratch.  It was great!

When I decided to learn how to cook, my mom told me to pick a recipe from her cookbook and we’d start.  I chose a yellow cake with chocolate frosting.  We had all the ingredients, all the tools.  I only had to learn how to put everything together.  Mom never really enjoyed cooking.  She was a good cook, but uninspired.  I figured it was because she wasn’t making enough cake.  I had everything spread out on the table, the only surface large enough to hold all the bowls and ingredients.  The first thing she had me do was read the recipe start to finish, then turn on the oven.

“What’s sifting?” I asked, after reading the recipe twice.  She showed me how to measure the dry ingredients and sift them together by demonstrating with a cup of flour.  Well, that was easy.  “How many times do you sift it like that?”  She told me that three was plenty.  I measured out the dry ingredients and sifted away.  It was so much fun, I sifted about five times before I stopped.

“Okay,” she said.  “Make a well in the center of the flour like this.  Then, put in all your wet ingredients.”  I measured out milk, cracked eggs, tipped in vanilla, added oil.  “Now stir till there aren’t any lumps.”  Either electric hand mixers hadn’t been invented yet, or we didn’t have one.  To this day, I feel rather proud of the fact that I can accomplish most cooking tasks by my own muscle power.

We prepped that pans, poured cake batter into them, and baked.  And I sat there watching as MY cake rose in the pans turning a wonderful golden brown.  After the required time had passed, I called Mom and she showed me the time honored methods for testing doneness.  First by smell, second by sight, third by touch, finally by straw.  When the smell of the cake permeated the house, it was close.  If the cake was starting to draw away from the sides of the pans and didn’t jiggle in the middle, it was probably done.  If the top felt firm when you touched it lightly, it was definitely ready.  But if you’re not certain, poke a thin straw/toothpick/knife into the center and if it pulls out clean, it’s ready!

I gotta say, the cooling time took for-flippin’-ever!  But finally(!) it was ready to come out of the pans and be frosted.  Now up to that time, the only frosting I’d ever seen came out of a box, and there was never enough, to my way of thinking.  This time, I was making it from real ingredients and I wanted A LOT!!  There was powdered sugar everywhere.  But there was also plenty of frosting!  I experimented with spreading the frosting and quickly found the easiest way to do it (for me, sides first, top last.)  It was READY!!

We cut a piece each and took a bite at the same time.  A puzzled look crossed Mom’s face.

“What did you do?” she asked.

The cake was not the fluffy, lighter than air, sweet concoction it should have been.  It was sweet, and tasty enough, but it was dense, and heavy, and more like a pound cake.  I reviewed the steps in my mind.

“I followed the recipe exactly.  Three cups of flour, two cups of sugar . . . ”

“Wait.  Three cups of flour?  You’re sure?”  she was starting to grin.

“Yeah, I’m positive.”

“On top of the cup of flour I showed you how to sift?”

Bingo!  One extra cup of flour proved that too many cooks etc.!

Still tasted good, though, and no one complained.  Check out my recipe for Spice Cake on the right.  It’s really good!

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