Sunday, October 7, 2007
While the roasted garlic bread was undergoing its second rise, Clea, one of my very favorite 2 1/2-year olds, and I baked a cake. Clea is very taken with the book In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak, where the hero is mixed into a Mickey Cake. In the Night Kitchen, by the way, is one of those children's books that's perpetually being banned by someone or another because an unclothed Mickey falls through space and his innocent little penis is clearly visible. You might think that people would have other things to get exercised about, but apparently you would be wrong.
Anyway, Clea wanted to bake a cake. Clea's mother Teddie, my colleague, has many talents, but baking is not one of them, or, at least, baking is one of her undiscovered talents. I begged her to let me bake a cake with Clea because I like Clea and it seems like the kind of thing I would do with a grandchild if I were ever so fortunate as to have a grandchild. Actually, I'm not much of a cake-baker myself (I should have called on Evil Cake Lady for advice), but I led Teddie to believe that I was. Here is Clea adding butter to the cake.
We used Rose's Favorite Yellow Cake recipe, and things were going swimmingly until we came to the part where we separated four eggs. I take responsibility for the little egg mishap because I did not demonstrate clearly enough that once you cracked the egg, you separated it and put the yolk in the cake rather than on the floor. But no harm done--all we had to do was crack another egg.
We were all very pleased with the way the cake came out. Clea turned out to have a real knack for sifting flour and, once she got the hang of it, was quite good at breaking the eggs, too.
But of course a cake must have frosting, and I choose a simple chocolate buttercream. Our second of two mishaps occurred with the frosting. Clea was in charge of turning on the mixer. She was very careful with this, and always turned it to its lowest speed. Unfortunately, she was perhaps feeling a little cocky because she turned it to its highest speed to mix the frosting. One second there were six cups of powdered sugar in the mixing bowl; the next second there were five and a half. The other half-cup was spattered over the kitchen, including on Clea's hair.
But we managed to finish making the frosting, and Clea carefully smoothed it over the sides and top. (Luckily, the cake was just one layer, made in a spring-form pan. If we'd had to stack the layers and fill them, my lack of expertise would have been clearer).