A Three Cake Day

A Three Cake Birthday

I had grand plans for my birthday. Well, grand for me. Mainly, I wanted to bake a cake from scratch and document it for this blog. Maybe I’d even video it. I’m toying with the idea of a YouTube channel for this blog. I know, I know – big dreams. Haven’t even truly launched this thing yet, and already thinking of expansion.

The Plan

My planned cake was to be from The Pooh Cook Book by Virginia H. Ellison. It’s an old cook book, from the 1960s. I love old. My copy was obtained secondhand. Actually, I have two copies and both were obtained secondhand. The hardback was acquired when I was about 8, I believe. I’m not sure how, exactly, just that it showed up one day. Books had a way of doing that at our house. Mom loved books, and sometimes bought them and then forgot to give them to us (because life got in the way) so would tuck them on the shelf. I’d eventually come across a title I hadn’t seen before and think the bookshelf was magic. Or at least, I did the first time it’d happened when I was four or five. (I also have a paperback copy, that I inherited from my uncle when he passed away. He had an eclectic collection of used books, his dream being to live in a library, I think.)

There are two cakes in this cook book: Hipy Papy Bthuthdth Thuthda Bthuthdy Cake 1 and Hipy Papy Bthuthdth Thuthda Bthuthdy Cake 2. The name comes from the inscription Owl put on Pooh’s birthday gift for Eeyore.

Cake 1 is easier, just add the few ingredients, mix and bake. But I was up for adventure, so chose Cake 2. It was Pooh’s choice, too, given that it had hunny and the other did not. The main tricky part was separating the eggs and beating the whites before folding them into the rest of the batter. I’ve separated eggs before, and whipped them, and folded things in before – just not in a cake, and not often at all. So this felt different, but doable.

The cookbook had an inscription when we bought it, about hoping to be in time for “a little smackeral” with their favorite Pooh fan. I scratched out the name and added Pooh’s, when I was little.

Something Went Wrong

My plan had involved making the cake at home, and just having a quiet birthday alone. But, that didn’t happen. I’d mentioned planning to make the cake to my dad, and he kept asking how it’d turned out. I knew he’d also want me to spend the day with him, so I decided late the day before to just “whip it up” and take it with me to Dad’s. It was not that easy. I found myself still working on it at 2 a.m. – and I am so sorry to my neighbors who probably heard the noisy mixer on and off and on and off. All. Night. Long.

It looked and tasted great, prior to baking. (Yes, I did taste it despite the raw ingredients. I grew up tasting things raw, even ground beef.)

The book said to divide the batter between two cake pans and bake both together on the middle rack, at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. I couldn’t fit two small pans on one shelf, so tried baking one just below the other. I planned to switch them at 15 minutes.

The first indication that something might not be right was actually right then – as I was setting the oven temp, I thought to myself how much higher and longer it says than a boxed cake. After fifteen minutes, the top cake seemed done. But I thought, “Surely it can’t be truly done in only half the time”. So I ignored my instincts and let it bake on.

It was half cake, half brick at 30 minutes. They both were. I cried. Partly from being overly tired, and partly from disappointment.

I really wanted a Pooh cake. I wanted to use the recipe from the book, and I wanted to sculpt it into Pooh’s image. That’s all I wanted for my birthday. What silly dreams one gets sometimes, huh?

Dad drove us to the store when I visited, to get a cake mix and frosting. No fussy homemade cakes for him. Lemon frosting was sold out, though, so I once again had to give up the dream. I was too tired then, anyway, after the late night and then early rising and long drive, to fuss with fancy sculpting/ decorating. It was all the energy I had to bake the lemon cake and frost it with strawberry frosting, while Dad watched the Monk marathon with Pooh. One of them snored, but I won’t say who.

It was a tasty cake, Strawberry Lemonade. But not my dream.

Finally, A Pooh Cake

Two days later, I was rested and ready to try again. Not with the homemade cake, though. As a backup, I’d purchased a lemon cake mix and lemon frosting when buying other ingredients for the first cake attempt. And I’d saved red and black jelly beans from Easter. I really wanted to make my dream cake before I either ate the jelly beans or they went hard. Plus, I didn’t want to just give up the dream.

I learned from my earlier dilemma, and this time baked the two pans separately. It took twice as long, but both cakes turned out perfectly. I made two round cakes, and cut away a curve on opposite sides of one, to shape his cheeks and forehead. These I placed at the bottom, to become the collar of his sweater.

From the second cake, I cut out two semi-circles for his ears and a large circle for his muzzle. I think that’s what it’s called. Then I frosted everything with lemon frosting. I covered his sweater pieces with red sprinkles. While trying to frost the sides of his muzzle, I had some globs that fell onto the rest of the cake. I managed to form them into lips, and placed two red jelly beans in them. I used black jelly beans for his eyes and nose.

I’m quite pleased with how the cake turned out. Part of me didn’t want to eat it right away, but just sit and admire it. I had the leftover portion of the second “tier” to eat, so for a while I was actually able to have my Pooh cake and eat it, too. I did eventually eat the masterpiece, of course, and soon discovered the downside of having cake alone. I had to eat the entire thing by myself. It will probably be a full year before I feel like looking or eating another bite of the stuff! And maybe then I’ll master the homemade one…

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