How to Bake a Cake – Or Not!
I love to cook. I love food, all kinds of food—except maybe cottage cheese. And I love trying new recipes.
But, baking is another story. Let’s be specific—baking cakes. So why did I volunteer to bake a cake for a friend who is the ultimate baker. A White Coconut Cake with Lemon Curd and Italian Meringue Buttercream. What was I thinking?
So here’s the story. It’s her birthday and she doesn’t have time to bake her own cake and who should bake their own birthday cake anyway, Right?
Eleven a.m. on Saturday. After reading the recipes and the tools needed over several times (four to be exact) along with the videos, I head out to the grocery store and buy two packages of butter, coconut, coconut milk, 18 eggs, 4 lemons, sugar and three new baking pans for a total of $82.50. Again I read the recipes and start with the simplest—lemon curd. Not bad, it looks like the picture.
Let’s tackle the cake. Sift the flour, baking powder together—so far so good. Now cream the butter and the sugar and add the eggs. Four egg whites and four whole eggs—can that be right? Read the recipe again and yes, that’s what it says. It looks like a curdled mess and not that appetizing. But continue and add the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients alternately. The recipe says I should have four dry and three wet and end with wet. What?? Beat it all together and it still looks like a mess. Pour it into the pans and cook at 350 degrees for one hour and ten minutes. It’s done way too soon but I’m afraid to leave it in for fear of burning it. Well, let’s see what happens as it cools.
Now it’s time for the Italian Meringue Buttercream. OMG!! I watch the video one more time and I can do this. I get the meat thermometer out (recipe says candy thermometer but I don’t have one) because you have to make a simple sugar with the water and sugar. Beat the eight egg whites, add the HOT liquid syrup and keep on beating, and beating, and beating, until it cools down. So it’s cooler and I add the two cups of butter and beat, beat and beat some more. It’s not getting thick like in the video. Finally, I quit beating after about twenty minutes. I let it cool (maybe that will help.) So after a couple of hours I check the icing. Bingo, it’s perfect, except when I stir it up it’s all water on the bottom. By this time, it’s 3:00 p.m. on Saturday and I break down in tears and give up.
Fast forward to Sunday afternoon (I had to put it away) and now it’s time to try to make these cakes look presentable. I now make a plain Vanilla Buttercream Icing, (recipe online) Now the lemon curd is all lumpy but damn it I’m using it anyway. I put the lemon curd in between the cakes and attempt to smear the icing all over but it keeps on shifting to one side. I push it back and it shifts the other way. The end result is disastrous, and you need muscles just to lift it over onto the table—I swear it weighs ten pounds. You will have take my word for it because I certainly didn’t take a picture of it. Maybe I should have, to remind myself never to bake a cake again. All in all it was a complete waste of my time and effort. NEVER AGAIN!!
And now, my alternative is to go buy a cake.