As long as it tastes good, don’t ask any questions
Friday was Dad’s 85th birthday. To honor him, I decided to make his favorite: carrot cake. After scrolling allrecipes.com for a recipe with lots of stars, I went with Carrot Cake III.
Too many YouTube videos have convinced me that I must set all the ingredients up in a lovely mise en place before I begin. I’m not sure which great chef I think I am, but I imagined Gordon Ramsey yelling at me to make sure I measured carefully and set everything out. Not only did I set out the cake ingredients, but I also set up the “mise” for the frosting. It was that part which nearly did me in.
Let me back up here: just procuring the ingredients for the frosting was a saga. I visited three stores looking for cream cheese – it’s no joke, the cream cheese supply lines are down. I was resigned to using a low-fat cream cheese (yuck) when I had to make one more trip to the store for something else – and spotted a few blocks of regular Philly cream cheese. I grabbed two packs and didn’t even think about looking at the price.
The kitchen work was going so well – I was creaming and combining in my beautiful red KitchenAid mixer. I’d pick up each plate or bowl holding the carefully measured ingredient and add it to the mix as I went. My only change to the recipe was putting it into two round pans instead of one 13 x 9 pan. Slight hiccup there: instead of two 9” round pans, I had just one 9” and one 8”. I carefully sprayed and floured the two round pans, dumped the mix in and put it in the oven. As I was putting it into the oven, I remembered thinking, that batter seems awfully loose. “Oh well, it’s just that type of batter,” I said to myself as I cleaned up the mixing bowl.
Then I spotted the container of flour. Not the flour cannister. The measured portion of flour for the recipe, sitting on the counter, and not in my cake currently in the oven.
At this point should tell you that it has been a long, long time since I baked a cake. No, it’s only been since November, when I made the fruitcake for Christmas. Darn, I can’t even use that as an excuse for what went happened!
How could I make this mistake? I knew I had put something white into the cake mix. What was it? With a sinking feeling I realized I had dumped 4 cups of confectioners’ sugar meant for the frosting into the cake batter. Along with the cup of regular sugar.
The mess had been in the oven for only four minutes. I could save this! I yanked both pans out of the oven, dumped the batter into the clean mixing bowl, and proceeded to add the flour to the cake mix. After quickly re-spraying the pans with Pam and dusting with flour, I poured the batter (properly thick this time) back into the pans, put them in the oven, and hoped for the best.
While the cake baked I assessed my frosting situation. I was now down to just 3 cups of confectioners’ sugar, which meant I was going to make less frosting. I decided to go with the fashionable “naked cake” approach and not frost the sides. Once everything cooled off, and I could frost, I was so leery of the small amount I didn’t put a lot in between the layers. The top of the cake was slightly concave anyway (I’m sure all that caramelized sugar inside had something to do with it) so I covered it up with icing.
When I sliced the cake at Mom and Dad’s, it looked beautiful. I waited anxiously for the verdict. Dad loved it! I thought it tasted pretty good myself, but I kept asking Dad over and over, do you like it? Does it taste good? You’re not just saying that, are you? He insisted he loved it. And as of today, he doesn’t know about the extra sugar.
Next time I make that recipe though, I’m skipping the frosting “mise” until the batter is safely in the oven. I wonder what it will taste like without an extra four cups of sugar?