I can’t bake to save my soul. Which is either a crime, since my favorite thing in the world is homemade chocolate cake; or a blessing, since I could quickly and easily devour an entire cake in one sitting. My waistline says blessing.
Many women can laugh off their inability to bake, saying their time would be better spent shopping or chatting or fill in the blank with your favorite woman stereotype. But as a stay at home mother – of girls to boot – it has not escaped my children’s notice that I cannot bake. What is more synonymous with “stay at home” mother than baking? It’s in the job description, wedged between changing diapers and folding laundry. In fact the only thing I detest more than baking itself is baking with my children – magical moments spent creating chocolate chip cookies whilst wearing matching aprons do not occur under my roof. That’s what Grandma’s are for.
Recently, my oldest daughter had a friend over to dinner. I had, ahem, slaved to make a cake for dessert, it being a particularly stormy and dismal Sunday. The cake had turned out well – as they normally do from the box. Duncan Hines rarely disappoints. But my child was mortified – mortified – when her friend asked me to pass on the recipe to her mother and we told her it was from a box. She had no idea such a concept existed. Her mother, clearly, would never dream of baking from a box, my daughter told me later. We all have our strengths, I ventured.
I have the extremely good fortune of having a friend who not only bakes, but bakes very well. She made me a chocolate cake for my birthday, and let me tell you I have thought of nothing else since. It was rich, dense and moist, an explosion of goodness on my palette. The frosting – also chocolate – was likewise rich with a hint of coffee. Too rich for my friend’s taste, she said she has never combined the two. But perfectly rich and beyond delectable for me. Try as I might, I will never be able to describe its perfection on my tongue, but will simply say: Best. Cake. Ever.
We handily polished off half of it the night of my birthday. The next day the kids went to school and we were alone together, me and that cake. I stared at it, and it stared right back. In the light of day, it looked even sexier and more alluring than it had in its virginal state the evening before. All day it beckoned me, and I purposely busied myself and avoided the kitchen. It was exhausting, not eating that cake. I waited until my kids were home from school before having another piece, forcing myself to share it equally among us. There was no way I could stop at one piece otherwise. It was a very long six hours.
It subsequently dawned on me that it is a blessing, indeed, that I don’t bake. I could not muster such amazing restraint on a regular basis.