The First Wifey Disaster

So, my new sister-in-law’s birthday was last week, and I wanted to bake a delicious chocolate cake for the occasion. We had some friends over to go swimming and to stay for dinner and birthday cake. The day before the shindig, I set out to bake this fabulous cake. I had all my ingredients measured and set out and I was following the cookbook to a “t” as I stirred to some Diana Krall on our stereo. I was being a very good little cook this time, following all the directions and measuring all my ingredients carefully, which I rarely do, even when baking. I was determined to be a perfect little wifey and bake a perfect little cake. Of course, my determinations to be perfect almost always end up being my worst disasters. But on to what actually happened…

So, I’m measuring and stirring and preheating and having a grand old time, thinking about how wonderful this recipe is and how deliciously moist this cake will be. I buttered up my cake pans and carefully poured the batter into them. I thought the pans looked a little full already, but I still had cake batter left, so I just poured the remaining batter into a container and put it into the fridge for later use. The cookbook stated that one recipe would make one 9″ round cake. I wanted a double-layer cake, so I doubled the recipe. It concerned me that there was so much batter in the pans as well as leftover, but I decided to trust the cookbook and just go with it. Bad idea. Ten minutes after delicately putting the cakes into the oven (without a pan underneath, of course), I was still washing my preparation dishes when I smelled a wonderful and awful smell. It was like eating delicious milk chocolate that had an ashy aftertaste. I became quite concerned and opened the oven to find two violently bubbling cakes, sloshing over the edges of the pans and bursting into flame each time a dollop hit the oven coils. Naturally, I freaked out and panicked for a minute. Then, I cleared the counter like a crazy person, frantically thinking of something I could put the cakes on that wouldn’t create an even larger mess. I settled for a nearby towel, and thought (knowing this would be messy either way), “to heck with the laundry” as I put on my oven mitts and pulled the upset cakes out of the oven, placing them on the counter. I quickly turned the oven off, opened the windows, turned on fans, called my mom, and burst into tears. As I wailed to my mother of my ignorant disaster, she calmed me down in a way that only my mother can do when I’m in domestic distress. She talked me through the process of simply turning the oven back on, spooning out the excess cake batter, and trying again. The oven could be cleaned later, just get the cakes baked and salvaged. As we discussed what might have caused the fiasco, we discovered that the recipe calls for an exorbitant amount of baking soda that most likely caused the excess batter and violent bubbling. I thanked my mother for her advice, and hung up the phone so I could begin cleaning the chocolate off the walls.

In the end, all was not lost. The cakes turned out just fine, the chocolate came off the walls, floors, appliances, and cabinets, and my love for cooking has not gone sour. My husband came home that night to find me somewhat in shambles, still doing dishes and laundry. He was a dear, comforting me while helping me find laughter and hilarity in the whole ordeal. He then cleaned the oven for me and helped with the laundry. (Of course, during this whole endeavor, a clip from Bill Cosby’s Himself is running through my head…) I saved the excess batter and baked a bundt cake the next day (which turned out fine), and my sister-in-law and our friends were able to enjoy and celebrate her birthday with chocolate cake after all. Lessons learned?

  1. Mothers are awesome
  2. Husbands are sweet and helpful
  3. Don’t let me bake alone (just kidding)
  4. Chocolate does come out of oven mitts
  5. Our ventilation system is awesome (the smoke detector didn’t go off! Wait, is that bad?)
  6. Praise the Lord for self-cleaning ovens
  7. No more freaking out over “ruined” cooking endeavors

After all, it is just cake.

One response to this post.

  1. We can do a baking 101 🙂 I took a Wilton class and haven't ruined a cake since!
    I have some super tips that even my mom didn't use.

    It is just a cake but it can also be so much more…

    Love you fellow wifey!


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