I've been baking for the past two weeks trying to get ready for a little family gathering we're having on the weekend. Up until today I'd been making cookies - something I'm generally pretty good at - but today I ventured out of my realm of comfort and made a cake.
I can't tell you the number of cake disasters I've had. There was the lemon birthday cake I made for my beloved two times before giving up and buying a mix (which I baked and then accidentally frosted with icing made from rancid cream), there was the horrific lumpy mess of a birthday cake for my Mother-in-law (I hid its grotesqueness under a gallon of pink icing I piped over the mess) and then there was the Irish whisky cake for a St. Patrick's Day dinner party that can really only be described as an Irish Whiskey cake shaped disc. It was flat and crunchy. Cake should never, ever be crunchy.
Anyway, I wanted to include some cakes and loafs (I'm a good loaf maker) on my dessert table this weekend, so today I made an orange poppy seed cake. Sounds innocuous enough, I know, but I used my special bunt pan - the one shaped like a cathedral. The one shaped like a cathedral with a million little places in which orange poppy seed cake can get stuck.
And get stuck it did.
As I stood there looking and the steaming pile of delectable smelling cake I felt panic rising up into my throat from that horrible pit where all fears seem to lie in waiting for just the right moment to attack. It was just a cake, but for some reason seeing its complete destruction just devastated me. I'd wanted it to work so badly - I'd imagined it sitting so regally on my table as my guests gazed at it in complete awe. I wanted vindication - proof that I can actually bake a decent cake - but mostly I just wanted it to work.
And I was totally freaked out that it wouldn't work - that I couldn't make it work. That I tried so hard, did everything right and it was a disaster anyway.
I quelled the panic by telling myself that I'd just bake a second one using my plain bunt pan (which I did tonight - it's now glazed, wrapped and sitting quite peacefully on the bottom of my freezer), but it was really interesting to me how upsetting the failed cake was.
It was just a cake.
Welcome to my Christmas madness.