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Defensive Baking

So, it’s well after Christmas and I still have several baked items given to me by my kind and generous neighbors filling up my freezer. Along comes Valentine’s Day and I panic…. What if it happens again? Where will I put the stuff and how will I ever consume it all?? What to do?

There I am at Super Target at about 3 p.m. on Feb. 14th and it occurs to me that maybe if I bake something BACK at the neighbors, we’ll at least be even.

I’m in the Valentine’s section looking for candy when I see these funky little heart-shaped baking cups. They seem to be made out of rubber but you can put them in the oven. Right next to them is a little cake pan about 4 inches in diameter. It looks really cool too. Each costs about $10. I hate baking. Why am I thinking about spending ten bucks on something like this? This is exactly why I end up with all these stupid little things that I will forget I even have next year.

I end up with the cupcake cups. I am then forced to walk all the way back across the store because I hadn’t intended to make anything but now I have to go back to the food section to get a bloody cake mix with which to make the bloody cupcakes.

Now, which flavor to get? Me, I am an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink type. When I eat ice cream, I merely want the ice cream itself to act as a bonding agent for all the other junk I add to the mix. But not everybody is like that, so I have to readjust. What would be the least offensive mix I could use?

It pains me, but I go for the yellow cake mix and just to jazz it up a little I choose cream cheese frosting (Note: Since then, I have been fantasizing about putting Valentine M&Ms in the leftover frosting and eating it straight up). I grab a tube of red goo with which to make some sort of appropriate decoration and head off, it being Valentine’s Day already and I have but a few short hours in which to prepare my arsenal.

Okay, so it’s been about 30 years since I last made a cupcake. These little heart-shaped jobbies seem bigger than normal cupcake cups, so how much do I use?  I search the packaging but it doesn’t tell me. Crap. I figure it’s better to use too little than too much, right? Don’t want them boiling over, so I fill them about half way.

I check out the cakes as they’re baking (through the window of course…I do remember that much) and I can see that I’ve undershot the mark. My little cupcakes are rising no more than about an inch in a 2+ inch high container. Double crap. So what…. I’ll just pile ’em high with frosting. After all, who really eats cupcakes for the cake part?

Turns out these little heart-shaped baking cups are pretty cool. The cupcakes popped right out, thanks to a little shot of Pam, so I’m ready to frost.

Frosting is a whole ‘nother art in itself. Have you ever tried to get it just right? All swirly and yummy looking? Well, I totally massacred the first cupcake trying to achieve such perfection and decided after that, it just didn’t matter. The red goo would heal all wounds.

Said red goo gets its own medal in the baking HELL of fame! For Pete’s sake, I am starting to NOT FEEL THE LOVE!!! Whatever you do, DON’T put plastic wrap over red goo or any other color goo, for that matter! This could make a good country song: “You done gone and smeared my heart all over your frosting…” Never mind, that sounds kind of nasty in retrospect.

Finally, it’s time to deliver the goods. Clearly my little culinary experiment has failed but I am committed now. It’s all about the thought, right? So I defiantly march next door to present my offering to the neighbors. “Ohhh, how sweet!” they say, to which I reply, “Sweet is about ALL they are!” And there on the counter is a perfect pink-frosted 4-inch heart-shaped cake, the one that I was GOING to get, an offering to us in return. I’m beginning to feel green on such a red day…

In the end, with calories equally exchanged, I am disheartened about my baking and decorating abilities. Add it to my list of creative failures lately. Maybe I do need to get a real job.

The next day, the same neighbor comes over to me and says, “We’ve been thinking about sending our 4-year-old to art lessons and thought that you would be the perfect person to send her to. Would you like to teach her some art?”

NOW I feel the love……. Happy belated Valentine’s Day, y’all, and happy baking!!!

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Francine
    February 20, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Bloody Cake Mix?
    Bloody Cupcakes?
    Sounds more like an offering to the forces that be on Halloweenie, not dear Sainted Valentines day.

  2. February 20, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Dear Sainted Valentine nearly made my heart bleed…. Bloody, YES!!!

  3. betty
    February 21, 2008 at 1:49 am

    You have been reading to many of Patrick’s blogs. Why not just sit back and let people lavish their love and goodies on you. What fun to share your art with a young person.

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