Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Strawberry Cake Fiasco

As March begins, there still hasn't been much crafty time in my life. The crafty-est I've gotten lately is making a cake for our church's birthday dinner, where we set up 12 tables, one for each month of the year, decorated them according to month, and made everyone sit at the table of their birth.


I decide my contribution is not crafty table decorations. Oh no, that would be too easy. I decide to make a cake. Which then turns into a disaster, one step at a time.

Upon planning, I realized I had never made a cake before. Not a real one anyway. I have made scads of cupcakes, a sheet cake once or twice and a Happy Birthday Husband Bundt cake (he thinks its funny to ask for a bundt cake when I ask what he might want for dinner). But I had never made a layer cake.

Yes, that would be a cake virgin.

To add insult to injury, I didn't even own cake pans. They had somehow escaped my wedding registry, so I bought two and a white cake mix and went to work.

My first goal was if it didn't taste good, at least it would look good. Which promptly went to hell (or heck to any church folks reading about my church contribution to my church function) when I brought out the perfectly baked cake from my unlevel oven.

Apparently, we are the first users of our oven at our rental duplex. Apparently, leveling your oven unit is crucial to baking. Apparently.

This doesn't quite sink in to me when I place the first layer on my cake dish and slather it with strawberry preserves — my choice filling. It does sink in once the second layer went on top and didn't quite make ends meet.

After consulting with the husband, whose grandmother is the cake-baking extraordinare and regularly ships either a sheet cake or three-layer chocolate cake eight hours with the hubs' parents on visits to us, I decide the massive gaps on the sides can just be filled with icing.

Keep in mind, none of my "cake baking" is truly from scratch. If the cake isn't from a box, I can't imagine why you would want to make it.... but anyway, my icing choice was a cream cheese frosting off the store shelf. Smart idea or not (I decide later on "not smart") I make the cake and ice it on Friday night, which is when I had the most free time since I work on Saturdays. I ice away.

Here is where the true catastrophes start in. Coming home Saturday, I find a gigantic Grand Canyon-sized crack in the top of my cake. I immediately blame the hubs, who swears he didn't even sniff at it. Apparently (great word) gravity sank onto my cake, pulling the heavy top layer down to rest on the uneven bottom layer, splitting the top. I have no pictures because I was too distraught at the time to chronicle my fate.

Another consultation with the hubs, and I decide to fill the canyon with icing.

At this point, my goal changes to if it won't look good, at least it will taste good. And this was quite an event at cake meant a huge let-down. And I refused to buy a store-bought cake, more than anything fearing Wal-Mart simply wouldn't have one once I got there, and then where would I be?

Sunday morning, the day of the event, I get up early to really put the razzle dazzle into the cake using strawberry art. I sliced several strawberries into the thinnest pieces possible, separating the end pieces from the insides. Then I went to work.

Beautiful, right? At this moment, I'm obviously so proud of my maiden cake voyage that I actually carry it into the living room for an impromptu photo shoot in natural light.

By the time I get it to church, though, half the strawberries have fallen off the cake and are oozing all over the plate and the cake. My shepherding elder lady friends tell me to put it in the freezer to firm up during church.

I'd like to say that was the end of the tragedy. Almost. Everyone who ate the cake loved it and raved about it. Still, there was a little left over so I put it back into the cake transporter and went back home.

As I got it out of the car and juggled my other belongings, the contents of my arms, including the cake, fell to the ground. Cake smashed. Cake plate slightly cracked.

And no, I never got a single bite of my own first cake.

And that's my crafty February.


  1. such a sad sad story, but it made me laugh. :)

    i'll tell you a trick for next time: leveling your cake is a lot easier than leveling your oven. just slice off the unevenness of the bottom layer and voila!

  2. "Apparently" is the best word ever. The cake did looked beautiful in the natural light. Don't get discouraged though, try again! I made a cake once for a school thing... my Mom's oven hadn't been used in years and didn't heat properly. I went to ice the cake only to notice that the inside wasn't done. Not only was it not done at all, it looked like puddy and smelled like baking dish. Needless to say, Wal-Mart always has cake.