We have been blessed this week to have our niece come and stay with us to help us out with two little ones since my Spousal Unit has been so sick.
She is a great sport for leaving home right before her birthday and American Thanksgiving - time off school for her - to stay with us and help out. My SU is already feeling better.
Yesterday was her birthday and I decided I would make her a cake. I couldn't do it the easy way and go the grocery store to get a mix. Oh no, I had to be domestic about it.
Before I tell you the sad sad tale of my experience, I need to say that my mother, aunts and grandmother have all been professional cake decorators. When we still lived at home, my mom each week would go downtown and take cake orders from people in businesses and then make HUNDREDS of cakes for delivery on Friday. She also did wedding cakes and birthday cakes and even when we moved to Canada she supplemented our family income by working for bakeries making and decorating cakes. So... you would think I had inherited some of her skill. Not so.
I have a recipe I love , which I need to say I HAVE made before - so I wasn't going into this COMPLETELY blind.
After work I went home and after supper, laundry, dishes, putting kids to bed and getting all the ingredients out, I realized our mixer died a tragic death at the hands of my two year old a month or so ago and has not been replaced. At any other time this would have been a sign to me to STOP, I mean - drive into town and get a cake at the store, but I was bound and determined to make something for my niece so I called a neighbor and arranged to go and pick up a mixer.
Half an hour later the mixer was procured I started on the cake. I have a recipe book of all my mom's recipes which she wrote by hand. Somehow the book got in some water on the counter and the recipe on the back of the page I was using got wet and all the ink ran.
This should have been my second hint to stop. I apparently don't take hints well.
So I start. Sugar, Marg and Egg yolks blended. Getting the egg yolks into the bowl I threw away the whites. Apparently I didn't read LINE ONE of the recipe which says "beat egg whites".
When I got to the part that said "BLEND IN EGG WHITES", I thought, Oh crap, I need three more eggs.
I get three more eggs and put the whites right into the mix. This does not look right so I read the recipe again. Oh. BEAT EGG WHITES. LINE ONE. Yeah, I can read. This now feels like mistake number 25 and into the garbage goes the flopped and I start over. Only this time I think we have no flour. SU insists we have flour, all I have to do is find it. Finding anything in our kitchen is no easy task, but 25 minutes later I surface with flour.
I actually got it right the this time (and nine eggs later) and the cake (in my opinion) turned out very well and we even ate it before the day rolled over and it was no longer her birthday. OK, it was ALMOST not her birthday anymore by the time it got out of the oven, but we scraped it by in the nick of time.
I am under no illusion that this was by far not the birthday she had hoped and dreamed for it to be - at home, with friends and immediate family around, but I hope she knows we care enough to bake the very best! While I am not disappointed I am nothing like Martha Stewart, I wish I were more like my mom who could have whipped that cake out without even looking at the recipe and certainly it would have tasted better.