The Cake that Almost Was

Remember how I said you’d be privy to my triumphs and tragedies? I didn’t think tragedy was going to happen quite so soon. The events of the past two evenings combine to be what is, I think, my worst baking experience ever, and that includes the time cake overflowed and covered the bottom of my oven and started to smoke.

Today is my four-year anniversary at work, and I wanted to bring a cake with me to mark the occasion. I chose two fairly simple-looking recipes out of my Better Homes & Gardens cook book: Best Two-egg Cake, and Blender Chocolate Frosting. As per usual, mistake No. 1 was not leaving myself enough time for everything. Mistake No. 2 was not double-checking the recipe while I was measuring.

Cake for me?

Mistakes No. 2 and No. 3 resulted in two layers of cake that deflated and took almost 40 minutes to look somewhat baked. You’ll see below that the recipe calls for 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of milk. For some reason the ‘2’ stuck in my head, and I measured out 2 cups, which led to cake soup. Then, while the cakes were baking, I thought I smelled something burning and opened the oven way too soon. What I got in the end resembled two chewy square pancakes. With a lump in the middle. Ew.

Sad cake

I re-baked the cake on Monday (with the right amount of milk) and it turned out much better.  So I moved on to frosting. I wanted to choose another BH&G recipe, but many of them involve uncooked eggs. Raw eggs makes me nervous. I didn’t want to be responsible for giving my coworkers food poisoning (no one wants that reputation), so I chose to attempt the Blender Chocolate Frosting.I don’t have a blender but I do have a spiffy (read: old) food processor. 

All you have to do is dump all the ingredients in, mix it up, and you’re done! Wonderful!  Not so wonderful.  About 30 seconds in, the food processor died. It was too late at night to start over, so I went to bed.

Ew.

But, not all is lost. I have two decent layers of cake wrapped up in the fridge, and they will have their moment. In the meantime, maybe you’d like to try your hand at it (and avoid the mistakes I made).

Best Two-egg Cake (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book)

2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour*

2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup softened butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk

Prepare two 9×1 1/2 inch baking pans (I chose the butter and parchment paper route). Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift together dry ingredients and set aside. In a mixing bowl, thoroughly cream sugar and butter (BH&G recommends 12 to 15 minutes for this).  Add vanilla, then eggs, one at a time.  Alternating between the dry ingredients and milk, mix in remaining ingredients, beating after each addition.  Pour the batter into your prepared pans, and bake for approximately 23 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

*If you’re like me and you don’t keep cake flour around / can’t be bothered to drive five minutes to the grocery store for it, you can use a substitute: Put 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in a 1 cup measuring cup. Fill the rest of the way with sifted flour. For the 1/4 cup, start with 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch. If you don’t have cornstarch, I can’t help you.

Cake!

I came to work empty-handed, but I think I know how to fix my chocolate frosting situation. Stay tuned for my next post.

~Amy

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