Friday, February 17, 2006

Let Them Eat Cake!

February heralds the beginning of Birthday Hell here at the Half House. And when I say Birthday Hell, I mean three straight months of birthday cakes. There's the buying of the ingredients. The baking and cleaning. And the eating of the cake. Plus there's barely enough time to consume one cake before it's time for another. Consider this: Mr. Half's birthday is tomorrow. The oldest son's is March 17th and mine is exactly one week later. Son #2's birthday is April 15th and Son #3's is April 19. I never thought I'd hear myself say this but...really...that's just TOO MUCH CAKE. Is there such a thing, you ask? The answer is a resounding "Yay-uss!"

What complicates the process is this slightly elitist-sounding admission: We don't do mixes. That's right. You heard it here first. Wordgirl thinks she's too good for Betty Crocker and she sneezes in the general direction of Duncan Hines...whoever HE is. Somehow in my formative years it was suggested to me that all cakes must be made from scratch. Look it up. It's probably a rule...maybe even a law. It might even be in the Bible someplace. My mother, who could barely make toast when she got married, murdered many a young, innocent cake in her early years because she chose the long, hard road and made everything using something called a recipe. It was touch and go there for awhile, but by the time I was old enough to be conscious of what I was eating, my mother could turn out baked goods like something out of a Martha Stewart acid trip.

I, myself, can make a killer bread and I don't use a machine, but cakes that have layers and get stacked using other creamy ingredients that have to be stirred and tested and stirred again. Cakes that require the use of words like ganache and piping... not so much. But I've always been afraid that if I used a mix, someone from the Food Network would stage a driveby shooting. Or my mother would come by and ground me for a month.

So...I don't really do mixes....until today. Last week, Son #2 ate lunch at the home of a friend and the mother served something called Bowl Cake which sent the boy and seven of his fellow teenaged friends into paroxysms of bliss and I was given to understand that the world would not ever spin correctly on its axis until I made this cake posthaste. And the ingredients? There are only four things required to make this cake. This wonderful and totally bad for you cake. Ready?


Bake in two circular pans. Let cool. (Cooling is essential here. Trust me on this one)
Put one layer in the bottom of a big bowl.
Now spread a layer of chocolate pudding (instant)
Now a layer of whipped cream. ( Cool Whip)
Now the second cake layer
Another layer of pudding.
Another layer of whipped cream.
Top with fragments of Heath Bar.
Refrigerate and serve cold.

I made this today and the cake cooling its heels in the garage fridge right now.
I feel But I could definitely get used to how fast and easy it was. Yeah, that was definitely good.

Speaking of cakes, you must read this post by ljc . The woman had a craving for chocolate cake at 10 p.m and roused herself long enough to bake one right there and then. Plus--she made a cream cheese icing to go with it. I ask this the behavior of a sane woman? Now I'm not against eating cake at 10 p.m....and homemade is the best, if you can get it. But I'm not going to MAKE the thing once I've already parked my butt on the sofa and I'm settled in with a glass of
Red Bicyclette. I mean, c'mon! At that point in the evening, gravity has started to take effect and who am I to argue with The Laws of Physics?

I don't know why I'm surprised about the cake thing, though. Ljc makes everything. Paints her entire house. Knits. Sews. Bakes. Designs stuff and then makes it. Plus, she has a real job. I'm not kidding. You should check it out, but not unless you have a lot of self confidence that can withstand the full body blow impact of her creative genius. Otherwise, stay away. You have been warned. Have a great weekend.


Blogger Katherine said...

Oh, and you were so close to getting the Martha Stewart Cake Award this year, but I regret to inform you we have withdrawn your nomination. NOT! See, in real life there are NO cake police. So make the great bowl cake from your main man Duncan and enjoy. :)

3:10 PM  
Blogger mama_tulip said...

Betty Crocker's the one who does the baking in this house...I just pimp her out. ;)

I know what you mean about birthday hell -- April is a killer month for us. At last count there were something like 18 birthdays we had going on. Everyone except family gets a pack of gum and some bellybutton lint.

4:55 PM  
Blogger theyellowwallpaper said...

I admit I'm a cake mix lover. I even buy the frosting. For some reason, I just don't like to bake. But, on the flipside, I hate using any kind of prepackaged marinade...Go figure.

As for Birthday Treats, my personal favorite is a Diary Queen Ice Cream Cake, which my husband begrudgingly gets me each year, sputtering how it's not really ice cream. In the end, we all have our preferences, however strange they may seem.

I gotta agree with you though. Baking an entire cake at 10PM, doesn’t seem right…I don’t know about you, but the last time I had a case of severe late night munchies was in college, when I had a lot of “unhealthy” habits...Makes you wonder...

5:45 PM  
Anonymous TB said...

I can cook gourmet like nobody's business, but I do not bake. Can't do it. I have tried and I can barely squeak out a cake from a mix, much less so something home made. Good for you WordGirl. I'm jealous of your mad baking skillz.
And a Martha Stewart acid trip sounds like one I that would most definitely bring me down. I'm imagining fancy scissors and springform pans gone awry a la Fantasia.

6:02 PM  
Blogger Ditsy Chick said...

Oh my GOD... I have to try that recipe.

You can make a cake from scratch???

Too much cake - what? Send the leftovers here.

St. Patrick's and Tax Day, that is some fine planning.

6:10 PM  
Blogger Sarcomical said...

oh, i just LOVE her projects. they all make me feel a bit sub-par... *sigh* but give me something to aspire to! ;)

9:34 PM  
Blogger The Gradual Gardener said...

People are either good cooks or good bakers. I've never known anyone who excelled at both. Me, I'm a baker, but I do use cake mixes and brownie mixes. Breads and pies are from scratch, though, even the pie crust. And I don't do machines...most of the time I don't even use the electric mixer (It freaks the dog out)!

3:37 AM  
Blogger CISSY said...

That sounds like a great cake. But my favorite cakes (aka the kind I don't bake) come from some ice cream store, or a great bakery down the street. Yep. Those are darn good cakes. But hey, my birthday's next week. I think I'm gonna bake up some of that bowl cake.

6:12 AM  
Anonymous V-Grrrl said...

Well Wordgirl, I too always make cakes from scratch (though I will do brownies from a mix). But I don't bake often and I don't like to cook.

I bake cakes for birthdays and Christmas day. I loathe making cookies and don't make ANY if I can avoid it. I'll admit cake mixes can be OK but canned frosting is just WRONG. Ditto Cool Whip.

The great thing about Belgium is the fabulous bakeries. YOu can buy a SMALL gourmet cake, which you can't do in the U.S.

8:52 AM  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

I am a homemade cake baker, too. I have some amazing cake recipes if you're ever in need of one. :) My hummingbird cake, chocolate stout cake and tropical carrot cake are the best in the world. Now all I need is a good red velvet recipe and I can take over the universe! ;)

2:51 PM  
Blogger mE said...


Cool Whip is of the Debbil, and will never pass our threshold.

I was with you up until that point, though... since our favorite Death By Chocolate fancy-pants cake (my cousin made it for an auction and it sold for $90 - the buyer said it was well worth it!) is made with chocolate cake mix, Jell-O instant pudding mix, sour cream, eggs and semi-sweet chocolate chips and THAT IS IT. Sometimes Junk is where it's at... :D


3:56 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Actually, there is nothing wrong with Duncan Hines. Just add two eggs, and make a plain icing nothing better.

5:49 PM  
Blogger The Queen Mama said...

Mmmmm...cake mixes. I'm swimming in them right now. Had to make cupcakes for a new mom on Valentine's Day (someone had to help the poor woman out...she just gave birth to #s 8 and 9!!!), then made what will be the first of THREE birthday cakes for Stinky Pete's 1st birthday. The first cake was just for the 5 of us on Thursday (and oh yeah, we finished it ALL), then there's the cake to make tomorrow with Hubby's brother and his family in celebration of the same birthday, and next weekend we go to our hometown to do the 1st birthday gig ALL OVER AGAIN!

Lucky me I never get tired of cake. Or have issues with mixes. ;-)

7:43 PM  
Blogger Nessa said...

we make something similar to that, but we use brownies instead of cake mix (I'm like you with the boxes - don't use 'em)

4:54 PM  
Blogger Misfit Hausfrau said...

I'm 50/50 when it comes to making cakes (homemade vs. boxed mix.)

I'll be over for some cake. You got any Breyers Vanilla to go with it?

5:37 PM  
Blogger Arabella said...

I have a pretty solid reputation among my friends as a food snob--I make homemade pasta and ganache, often have two or three unpronounceable artisanal cheeses in my refrigerator, and have done some very creative things with zucchini flowers.

Okay, here goes: I have to state my defense of the mix cake.

It is simply delicious. Cakes are inherently chemistry experiments; mix cake is virtually foolproof. All the proportions are balanced and, in a blind taste test, mix cake will typically fare significantly better than a wide array of both homemade and bakery cakes. I'm a big, big fan of the mix cake.

Please don't feel bad that you made this. It's just a necessary evil.

7:59 PM  

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