When I talked to my professional baker friend, Marie, after baking my cake, she asked why I didn't talk to her FIRST before attempting this. I yelled: "BECAUSE I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE EASY." She just shook her head and said I told you that baking is not easy. Specifically, she said:
Baking bread is easy and like a dog, very supportive and forgiving.
Baking cake is not easy and like a cat. Once you screw up, they hate you, and you are screwed.
For my first scratch cake, I decided to make a Lemon Blueberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. I chose this cake because Grace likes blueberries, my partner likes lemons, and I like cream cheese. Sounds like a dream come true! (Except, I later learned this was an advanced cake. Who knew?!)
Here is how the cake went down (and some red flags that I should have recognized and just stopped so I didn't waste three hours of my life that I will never get back.)
1. It took me three tries to get all the ingredients for this cake. I really should have just looked for an easier recipe but I chalked it up to not knowing where anything is and having a bad short term memory. It's ok, I got this.
2. When I finally got all the ingredients, I decided to start it in the afternoon during Grace's naptime. Except, she didn't end up napping and was screaming most of the time. I should have stopped and started baking when I was calm and not screaming back at her to nap. It's ok, baking with some pressure is ok. Makes you a stronger...baker?
3. When I got out all the ingredients and was ready to start baking, I realized the recipe called for "cake flour." WTF is that?! I still don't have all the ingredients but I am NOT going out to the store again. I decided to google a hack for cake flour. It's ok, just press on.
4. Grace didn't nap and ended up coming to the kitchen to help me. I thought it would be a fun experience for US but it wasn't. It added so much stress when she spilled some of the dry ingredients. I didn't even try to add some back in and just proceeded. It's ok, it can't make that much of a difference.
5. I ran out of time and my partner needed the oven to make dinner. I thought it is ok, I just covered my batter and stuck it in the fridge...for three hours... It's ok, it can't make that much a difference.
6. I added the blue berries to the batter and they did not sink in. They just rolled around at the top. Ummm.....go down into the effing batter guys!
7. I baked the cake three hours later and when it came out Grace excitedly said: Mommy, you made PIE. Only she can get away with saying crap like that to me. It's ok, I'm tired. I am just going to cover it and come back to it tomorrow morning. I can just cut the top off. That will be my solution.
8. The next day, I started on the icing. It called for softened butter. I put the butter on the counter for 15 minutes and proceeded to make it work. It didn't because it was so freaking cold and hard. This was truly the icing on the cake or the straw that broke the camel's back. I was so determined, I was punching the butter and cream cheese mixture. My partner walked into the kitchen heard my muttering and walked back out immediately. Smart man.
I was so deflated at this point, I really didn't give a rat's ass about what the cake looked like. I put the icing on it (which actually turned out ok.) and give it to Grace to decorate. She loved being a part of it and her eyes were glowing.
In the end, the flavour of the cake was good but was dry and hard. It resembled more like bread or a really old fruit cake. I learned from Marie that I should have put the batter in the oven at the latest 15 minutes after the wet ingredients are mixed in. Three hours later, any raising agents have left. Hence, the cake did not raise. Also, butter needs to be soften at least four hours in advance or overnight so that it didn't need to be punched at.
I was going to count this as a failure until Grace ate her piece of cake quickly, licked the plate, said "yummy", and said "thank you mommy." My heart melted. This was all worth it.