I've spent the better part of the month in a frenzy of baking, mainly the Amish Friendship loaves that I give out to friends and family each year. I've also baked a 7-Up cake for a Christmas party, four dozen chocolate chip cookies for Ethan's band concert, and 24 cupcakes for his school Christmas party. Of course, I didn't even consider buying any of these treats--as Bill had suggested--because I think I'm Suzy Homemaker.
Ethan and I spent some quality time on several occasions; I supervised while he mixed up the cookies and cakes. I bit my tongue when he spilled sugar on the floor and splashed vanilla on the counter. I realize that he probably won't want to bake with me in another year or so, so I've decided to enjoy these opportunities no matter how messy my kitchen might get. (To tell the truth, it gets awfully messy when I bake by myself, too.)
Ethan is so cute. He is very earnest about the responsibility of measuring the flour exactly as I've taught him: mound it up with a spoon, tap it with a knife, carefully level it off. He runs the Kitchen-Aid for precisely the prescribed length of time. In the end, he is so proud of the results, and I am equally proud of him. I imagine his future wife thanking me someday and telling me, "My heart just goes pitter-pat when I see my man working in the kitchen!"
This past Thursday, however, I wasn't having so many warm, fuzzy feelings about our baking project. Ethan wanted to take cupcakes for his 24 classmates, and I was determined to avoid a trip to the store. I found a yellow cake mix in the cabinet, but no frosting. I scoured my cookbooks for recipes, but they all called for butter, which I didn't have. I finally found a recipe online for a fudgy frosting that called for margarine, cocoa powder, buttermilk (which I did have, amazingly), and powdered sugar. I thought I was pretty clever.
So Ethan made the cupcakes, which were amazingly fluffy. They made thick, lumpy mounds in the cupcake tins. Apparently, I should have tapped the pans on the counter to settle the batter down more evenly, but I didn't know that. They turned out to be very funny-looking cupcakes, kind of like toadstools with big, flat tops. I was a little alarmed, but I tried not to show it.
The frosting was even worse. We were supposed to boil the buttermilk with the margarine and cocoa powder, but it never did come to a boil. It just got thicker and greasier because the margarine seemed to be separating out. I finally gave up and just mixed in the powdered sugar.
I carefully scraped the cupcake tops off the pan and gently worked each cake out of the pan. I only destroyed the top on one, which gave me an excuse to sample one. (It may have looked ridiculous, but it tasted wonderful.)
It took me so long to get the cupcakes out that the frosting had thickened considerably. When I tried to spread it, of course it tore the cake up. So I dropped fat dollops of fudge on the middle of exactly nine cupcakes. And then I ran out of frosting, blast it! Bill came to the rescue by topping the rest with melted margarine and cinnamon/sugar. (I was just done, and Ethan had lost interest long before that.)
The cupcakes looked so pathetic that I half expected Ethan to "forget" them on the bus, but Bill ended up driving him to school. Nevertheless, he brought home 14 of the 23 cupcakes. They looked battered, as if they'd been bumped around a bit on the bus ride home. I felt a stab of rejection. What, were my cupcakes not pretty enough to eat? Had Ethan hidden them under his desk?
Ethan said his teacher estimated that they'd had enough food for three classes, so that was probably the reason our cupcakes were shunned. I tried to give them to his classmate Makayla, who lives across the street, but apparently they still had most of their cupcakes, too. So I guess it was nothing personal.
Well, I've decided I'm not Suzy Homemaker after all. And how it pained me to throw away the last six cupcakes tonight! They were just too stale to eat, my food-wasting phobia notwithstanding. Next year, I'm going to just buy something from the store!