Pucker Up, Daddy!

When life hands you lemons ...

... don't give them to Rita and expect her to make a cake with them. Seriously.

I thought I'd be all Betty Crocker today and utilize my mad kitchen skillz to whip up something fabulous for Curtis's Father's Day gift. A cake would be perfect, I thought. That way the kids can decorate it, since that activity was such a big hit on Colin's birthday. Yes. Am genius.

Due to the lack of a store-bought cake mix - and the presence of a couple of aging fresh lemons in my fridge - I decided to try my hand at making a lemon cake from scratch. Now, as I've said before, I am generally one hell of a cook (well, other than those cookies, but let's forget those for a second). So I was sure that a luscious lemony confection was in store for us this evening.

But making a cake from scratch, at least this particular recipe, is a time-consuming process that I was completely unprepared for. I think that's partially because I kept hitting roadblocks. Like the lemon zest: since Colin threw my zester into the garbage disposal a few weeks ago, I'm without the proper means of obtaining the fine shreds of lemon peel. So today I improvised, peeling the zest off in big strips and then chopping it with a knife. I had noooo idea that lemon peel is so damn tough - and that it would take me FORTY MINUTES to chop it, and that it would leave me with this lovely memento:

Yep, a blister the size of California. (And to add insult to injury, the damn zest pieces were still big enough to be a crunchy, annoying presence in the cake batter. Ewww ...).

I was also out of baking soda, so I had to stop and Google for fifteen minutes trying to find an acceptible substitute (hint: extra baking powder. But not too much).

All that taken care of, I had a taste of the batter before pouring it into the pans, and much to my relief it was tasty. Sure, I had five dirty bowls, a mixer, a spatula, two cake pans, and a bunch of used-up lemon halves to clean up ... not to mention that I myself was covered with "batter splatter" ... but if the cake itself turned out as yummy as I suspected it would, it was well worth the trouble.

But then there was the frosting.

I was out of powdered sugar.

You must have powdered sugar for frosting.

So I consulted my trusty oracle, Google, for the umpteenth time - and learned that, supposedly, making powdered sugar at home was as easy as running 1 cup of sugar and 2 teaspoons of cornstarch through your food processor.

Um, no. Not my food processor.

I processed the crap out of that sugar, until I was breathing in clouds of sweet dust and my hair was powdery white in the front. But did it come out with the superfine texture that confectioner's sugar is supposed to have? No. It did not. I had to make do, though, because the cake needed frosting.

So the frosting (my trusty, normally no-fail recipe) ended up gritty, and with a texture that made it look more like cottage cheese than anything else. It was such a weird texture that it wouldn't even stick to the sides of the cake, so I only frosted the top.

Then I let the kids (and Curtis) decorate it.
(And yes, Colin is in the buff. Anyone who knows him knows that this is his usual state, no matter how many times a day I dress him.)

It turned out so beautifully (LOL) that I just had to take a keepsake photo:

I wasn't sure whether to laugh or gag ... but for better or worse, there it was. The finished product. It was time for the ultimate test - how would it taste?

Let's put it this way: it was ... edible. Not disgusting, but a little on the sour side, and not nearly the scrumptious masterpiece I had envisioned. The texture of the cake was good, but the frosting ... well, I'm sure the pictures speak for themselves. And if they don't, this one will: the remnants of Curtis's cake. Curtis, who will eat anything.

"Let's just pitch it," I suggested.

"But it's my Father's Day cake," Curtis protested. "We can't throw it away."

"Are you going to eat it?" I asked.

After a brief, apologetic silence, in the trash it went. All my hard work.

At least I still have the blister to remember it by.


  1. It's the thought that counts, right? :)

  2. Maybe so, Jenna, but I had hoped the supreme effort would count for something as well! ;)

  3. I admire your creativity, even if it didn't turn out like you expected! I, however, am too lazy to put forth that much effort. It's cake mix or nothing for me! :o)

  4. That's what I call a blister! I hope you had lots of the cake to make up for it :)

  5. that reminds me of the time my mom and i tried to make a chocolate cake using soy flour (we were experimenting because I was suspected to have gluten intolerance, turns out I don't phew). The batter tasted like we had used grass clipping. Baking it smelled like we had used grass clippings. It actually tasted remarkably good compared to the raw batter and the smell, but it was still pretty awful.

  6. At least you & the boys put a lot of effort into the cake & that is what is important....even if it wasn't the greatest.

  7. Regardless of Curtis's lack of desire to actually eat it, it's obvious that he LOVED it and all of your effort meant so much to him. What a great wife and mom you are!

    That is SO frustrated when you get elbow deep into a recipe, and then realize you don't have all the ingredients. Ugh! I admire you...I probably would have given up before I even got to frosting.

  8. You are right - they make it sound so easy to process sugar on the internet. It's so not easy. I'm sure your husband loved the cake anyway.


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