Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Death by Carrot Cake

My last post was the recipe for this cake, it is an old family recipe that my Aunt Josephine used to make. You can find it here if you want to try your hand at it yourself, it's delicious, and that's coming from someone who isn't especially fond of carrot cake.

Anyway, I had promised my boyfriend that I'd make him whatever cake he wanted (stupidly assuming he'd pick something super easy like chocolate cake) and he told me his favorite cake is carrot cake.  I popped off with "Awesome, I have an old family recipe that's been passed down for years, I haven't made it myself yet, but everyone really seems to like it, I'll make that."  I then went home, looked at the recipe, and panic ensued. I even called my mom so that she could virtually pat my head and tell me everything would be okay, that this cake was well within my skill levels.

Still the following thoughts wouldn't stop racing through my head:

1. While I have baked and decorated dozens of cakes over the years, I've never made one completely from scratch.  I always use a boxed cake mix as a base and doctor the recipe to get a homemade taste/texture.
2. This recipe in INVOLVED and has a TON of ingredients.
3. I would be baking in his kitchen which is known to have a VERY temperamental oven.
4. I have developed a reputation among friends and family of being THE BAKER, and he is well aware of it, he's known about my rep longer than he's known me.
5. Boyfriend is a culinary school graduate chef.

No pressure right?

So I packed up all my gear and took it to his house. Have Kitchen Aid (TM) will travel. Sunday morning dawned and I got up to get my inner kitchen goddess on, and learned right away that the oven did indeed suck balls.

First I couldn't get it to preheat to the temp I needed it to be, so I cranked the dial to 500, and it grudgingly raised to 350 (score, that's just where I wanted it), I flipped the dial to "bake" and the heat element turned off and the temperature dropped to 200 degrees. Fail.

Then while I was mixing all the ingredients, I realized when I got to the end on the instructions I still had a few ingredients that never made it into the bowl... turns out I skipped a couple lines on the recipe... anxiously called my mom, and again she virtually patted me on the head and told me it was fine, just put them in at the end. So if you do make the cake, order of operations isn't super important, it'll still turn out okay.

Back to the oven... I put it back on preheat, and figured that was fine... and popped the cake on the center rack, it wasn't 10 minutes later the kitchen is full of smoke (and only my nose detected it, not the smoke detector) and the top of the cake was black. I was really concerned because the cake was supposed to take 90 minutes to bake.  I rip it out of the oven and start poking around at it, nearly crying, but was hopeful when I discovered only the top 1/4 inch was charred. I started peeling off the blackened portion and sent the BF a frantic text about ruining the cake and hating his oven.  He gave me some pointers and left work to come to my rescue (or maybe his shift was over and he was on his way anyway, I like to think he was concerned for my mental health and raced home).

Meanwhile, I went all Swatter Ninja and started killing the hoard of flies that had infiltrated the house over the weekend. It was a way to be productive and to take out my frustration all at the same time. Plus who likes to be in a house full of flying insects? Not me. I also took a pumice stone to the bathtub and got all the bachelor pad grit off. What? When I'm stressed I obsessively clean things. I blame my mother, she does the same thing.  

Turns out I should have been using the bottom oven, not the top... and once I had the cake in the right place (who knew?) everything turned out fine.  I won't lie and tell you that I didn't at least once or twice fantasize about tossing the entire cake, pan and all out into the street and just watch it roll down the hill... maybe get hit by the neighbor's truck and splat everywhere. There were a few dark moments.

Luckily, once the cake was baked, cooled, and frosted it was DELICIOUS and a big hit with everyone who tried it.  So it was completely worth the struggles I faced making it.  I would definitely make it again, just maybe in someone else's oven, or you know, just use the functional oven now that I know which one it is.

This may not have been the prettiest cake I've ever made, but the fact that I made it from scratch, burned part of it, and that it still came out awesome (tasting)... it really might be the one I'm most proud of.