Last night I made a Christmas cake. In August. I know what you’re thinking – either I’m way ahead or way behind. Well, as usual, I’m way behind. Way, way behind. It seems I bought a boxed mix for a Christmas cake because it was on sale for twenty-five cents at the commissary after Christmas. Christmas of 2016, that is. It has been taking up space in my freezer for quite a while now. Each time I think about making it, I pull out the box, read the directions, and say, “Nah, that’s too much trouble.” So, last night, I decided enough was enough. I was making that blasted cake!
The reason it was too much trouble to make the cake is because it is a layer cake, with one layer tinted green and one layer tinted red. First of all, I don’t DO layer cakes – not when I have a perfectly good 13 X 9 baking dish that accommodates both layers with a minimum of work and the cake is just as tasty. My few attempts with layer cakes over the years have pretty much been disasters. They never look like the beautiful pictures on the boxes. Either the top cracks, leaving a big hole in the center of the cake, or the crumbs (or a good chunk of the cake) sticks to the frosting. Or someone’s mouth (usually mine) gets impaled on the toothpicks I insert to hold the layers together. However, as the Christmas cake mix was divided into one red pack and one green pack, it appeared layers were necessary. Mixing the two colors together to make a sheet cake might create a rather unappetizing color which no one would care to eat.
The other reason it was too much trouble was that the red and green layers had to be prepared separately, so it was basically making two cakes. Each needed 4 tablespoons of butter, 2 eggs, and 1/3 cup of water. Then they each needed to be mixed with the beater separately for two minutes. So I put the individual 4 tablespoons of butter into my two microwaves – one on the counter and one above the stove – to soften, while I went about mixing up the rest of the ingredients in two separate bowls. (I won’t go into WHY I need two microwaves. Just suffice it to say that the way I cook, I need both of them.) The two microwaves dinged within seconds of each other, which sets my teeth on edge because one microwave dings a B-flat on the musical scale, while the other dings a B natural. I suppose I’m one of the few weird people who would notice that. Anyway, as I was busy cracking eggs, I didn’t get the butter out right away, which upset my microwaves which continued to “remind” me every ten seconds until I removed the butter. If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s a nagging appliance. I’m always tempted to yell, ” I KNOW! I KNOW! Leave me alone, already!” Actually, truth be told, sometimes I do yell back.
So, finally the pans went into the oven, at which point my husband decided to make biscuits for dinner. This meant an oven rack had to be lowered over my cake pans, which was okay until the cake started to rise, sticking to the upper rack. Let’s just say the results weren’t pretty. Not to worry, I could cover up the scraped tops with icing. This is when I realized that canned frosting doesn’t cover layer cakes very generously. In fact, the coverage was rather skimpy. That’s okay, even if the cake wasn’t Betty Crocker perfect, it tasted just fine.
And the best part is not only did I finally get that box of cake mix out of my freezer, but I didn’t waste that twenty-five cents I paid for it.