Last month was my son's birthday, and I spent the day with him making three cakes. Three! Homemade! Cakes! Before you hand over that trophy, lack of planning on my part made for a very long day in the kitchen for a hungry and newly minted four year old. The poor little kid was assisting me in the kitchen instead of being spoiled or simply eating cake because I thought I could pull off three cakes in two hours.
(Three cakes in two hours: HAAHAAHAA.)
The good news is that he didn't seem to mind (except at lunchtime -- oops) despite my being super stressed out the entire time. The bad news is that by the third cake I was tired and cutting corners and forced to face my nemesis, the Bundt pan.
I'm not a professional cook by any means, but I can follow a recipe like the good rule follower that I am, which is very normally very comforting. But for some reason, my Bundt pan, with its peaks and valleys and crazy angles has always intimidated me. Like any reasonable person, I usually just store it for my mother to use. But this was the third cake of the day, and the rectagular pans and round pans were all in use and I just wanted to finish already, so out came the bundt pan for the last cake. The cake with no eggs in the recipe. (Foreshadowing!)
So I mix the flour and butter and chocolate and vanilla and prep the Bundt pan and pour in the batter and put everything in the oven. Easy enough. And when it was time to get the cake out of the pan, despite the butterflies in my belly, I just went ahead and did it. Tap, tap, tap and...the cake fell apart all over my counter. It was pathetic, and it was made worse because I immediately looked at Birthday boy, whose face told me everything: He was sad and worried that this mess was his fault.
"Don't worry, Mama, " he said. "It's OK?" His eyes looked at my face for the answer. My face wanted to curse and maybe cry. No, it wasn't OK. But I had to think fast or risk scarring the kid for life.
"Of course it's fine. We....we're...making a trifle!"
I had a trifle dish in my kitchen for no reason other than it was for sale at Crate and Barrel. It had been sitting there, unused and with the price tag still on, for almost a year. But out it came, and in went the pieces of failed Bundt cake and the frosting and some strawberries that were left over from breakfast. I worked fast and didn't let myself think too much. I put a couple of candles in the horrid concoction and...it looked pretty good. It tasted even better, thank goodness.