This Susie Homemaker Bakes Her Last Cake
by Beth Kozan
When Elliot wanted to order a yellow cake with chocolate icing from the bakery at A.J.’s, I blithely said, “I can make you a cake.” I got out my recipe box and reached for the card: “One-Bowl Yellow Cake” and wisely checked to see that I had the ingredients. I put “cake flour” on my shopping list and headed off to my local grocery. Not only could I not find cake flour, but I had to have help to find the sugar; it wasn’t on the aisle marked “baking needs”!! Have we become such wimps that no one bakes anymore?
A couple days later (feeling more emboldened), I resumed my search for cake flour and found it. It was in a box that promised “finest texture baking.” When the checker slid it over the scanner, she asked: “What is this used for?”
“It’s a finer textured wheat flour,” I explained, “but you can use all-purpose flour by taking out one tablespoon per cup.” As I took my groceries to the car, I wondered, Did I tell her the right amount?
So last night, I baked what will probably be the last cake I ever make!
First, I couldn’t find my cake pans. Finally, with the help of a flashlight whose batteries were fading fast, I located them behind the bottom tier of a mixture of pots and pans. I considered sitting on the floor to reach them more easily, but I might not have been able to get up from the floor. (Telling you how I learned that is for another blog post!) Since Elliot had already gone to bed, I removed a stack of seldom used cooking pans and was able to retrieve the cake pans. Whew!
It was 80 percent relative humidity that night of monsoon rains, a rare happening in the normally dry Arizona heat. By the time I found the pans, sweat was dripping from my forehead and running into my eyes. Cutting the paper to line the pans made for another sweat-fest. Parchment paper doesn’t “score” as easily as waxed paper, which I have but couldn’t find – no doubt it was hiding from me!
Finally I completed the three rounds of paper to fit into the pans for the three layer cake. The creamy batter worked well to hold down the paper that tried to curl up. I leveled off the third layer and popped them in the oven. Before I returned the recipe to the box, I reviewed the steps. Uh-oh! I had left out the ½ teaspoon of salt and the 1-1/2 teaspoon of baking powder. Too late…
Thirty minutes later, I found out just how important baking powder is to a cake. What I remembered as three 1-1/2 inch layers, had transformed to three layers, just 3/4 inches in height.
This morning, I am on the way to the store to buy a can of frosting. Yes, my perfectly good recipe is in the recipe box. I don’t have the energy to fight another battle to make frosting from scratch.
Pay $30 for a special order cake that I can bake on my own? It just might be worth it!
Beth Kozan is the author of the book Adoption: More Than by Chance and the forthcoming Helping the Birth Mother You Know. Beth worked in adoption for 35 years and retired to write. She has many more books than these titles to write and will emphasize and explore the concept of community in her additional books. “Growing up in a close agriculture-based, rural community in Texas, I felt the comfort and bonds of caring for others which is often missing in our busy lives today. Exploring and building communities for today is my writer’s goal.” Follow Beth on Facebook or visit her website, where she reviews books and films featuring adoption.
Interesting to me is to find out through adventures you just described how my priorities have changed. And…I don’t know they have changed until I experience strange outcomes that are like you described. Then I get it. Some time I’ll tell you about my oatmeal cookies. How in the world can you screw up oatmeal cookies????
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Thank you for this, Beth. Now I don’t feel quite so bad. You have accurately described my experience every time I attempt any kind of “cooking.” I tell people, paraphrasing Richard Nixon, “I am not a COOK!”
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Now YOU are a comedy writer, Mary Ellen! Thanks for your comment.
What a great adventure, Beth. It sounds familiar. I’ve had similar failures including double stuffed baked potatoes. I used to make them easily. What happened? This piece of writing is quite humorous and humor (in my opinion) isn’t easy to write. I really enjoyed reading it! Thanks! Cheryl