Baking for me as never been easy. My friend, Julie, is also a baker. She bakes cakes with the greatest of ease and makes a-maz-ing biscotti. Julie makes baking sound effortless, but I'm not fooled. She has listened to my fear of baking and has assured me I can bake. She shared a few tips and has helped me to at least think I might some day be able to bake.
In the last few years, I've gotten braver. I've stopped buying cake mixes and started finding recipes I'd like to try. I've managed an oreo cake that is a family favorite. I also have a chocolate bundt cake recipe that is sure to be a hit at any party. I'm not afraid to dive into the cranberry-carrot-cake recipe that has become a holiday favorite and have a lemon cake recipe that's perfect for summer. Still, every time I'm asked to bring a dessert I want to wiggle out of it. Every time I face a new cake recipe, I wonder if I can even come close to making it edible.
Tonight, I took the big plunge: German chocolate cake. My dad's birthday is tomorrow so I decided I'd try to make him one of his favorite cakes. German chocolate cake has always been a recipe I have steered clear of in my attempts to bake. Anything that requires multiple layers AND has a special icing recipe seems like something I should try to avoid. Since it was Dad's birthday, I decided I'd give it my best shot. This afternoon I gathered the ingredients and started to make the cake. As I gathered the ingredients I wondered how anyone could not like German chocolate cake; there is a huge amount of butter, sugar, and buttermilk in that recipe. What could go wrong?
Years ago, my cousin and I made a cake for my grandpa. I can't remember what kind of a cake it was, but by the time we were done it looked awful. Grandpa cheerfully ate a piece of that cake, reminding us that the look of a cake wasn't nearly as important as the taste. He assured us we had made a cake that tasted delightful. Well, he was probably telling a story, but now as I stood here years later looking at the jagged pieces of this German chocolate cake, I had to laugh.
Wondering why I didn't just order a cake, I went into the kitchen to make the icing. The recipe said to melt the butter, add evaporated milk, sugar, and heat it until it was thick and golden brown. I stirred forever. What would golden brown look like exactly? Finally, I decided it seemed thick enough, added the vanilla, coconut, and pecans to complete the icing.
Somehow I managed to carefully stack one layer on top of the other. The icing made it simple to hide the tears and jagged edges. When I was finished the cake was presentable. I hoped Grandpa was right all of those years ago and that the taste of the cake was more important than the look. (One of these times I'd like to make a cake that has both taste and presentation. #lifegoals)
After dinner I brought out the cake and we all sang happy birthday to my dad and Lisa. I had to chuckle to myself as I thought about all the little challenges that had popped up along the way. Despite the earlier drama, the cake seemed to do the trick. How can you go wrong with a little cake and ice-cream?
Another cake successfully served, but I'm still not sure I have discovered the joy of baking. I certainly haven't mastered any of the tricks. I'm not sure I'll tackle another German chocolate cake in the near future, but I did at least give it a try. That's progress.