Now that the boys are in elementary school, requests to join the PTA or, at the very least, give them money, bombard me. To assuage my guilt at constantly ignoring these requests, I volunteered to make something for this teacher appreciation dinner. (Truthfully, the dinner happened to be the same night as our parent-teacher conference, so I figured that if I was going to be there anyway, I might as well bring something.)
I got assigned a dessert. Awesome! I’ll make brownies! I thought. (Interestingly, we can bring homemade food items for the teachers, but not the kids.) But then I realized the brownie mix I had was for peanut butter brownies and since the school is peanut-free, I thought that might be a bad idea. Why I didn’t just go buy a plain brownie mix, I have no idea.
No, instead, I got this ridiculous idea to make something seasonal…pumpkin bars? Pumpkin cheesecake? No, because, you see, I already have tried and true recipes for those items…no, I thought it would be much better to Google a recipe for pumpkin cake (“The Best Ever Pumpkin Cake”) and then make said cake for the very first time and serve it to my children’s teachers.
So I did. The universe was trying to tell me not to…first we ran late at our playdate that day, so I didn’t think we’d have time to make the cake, but then, just before turning to go to the grocery store to simply buy some cookies, I convinced myself we had just enough time.
Once I was one-third of the way into making the cake, I realized the recipe called for 3 eggs and I only had 2...Oh well, I thought, how big of a deal can one egg be? (I still really don’t know the answer to that question, but I clearly was less concerned because I knew I wouldn’t be eating the cake.)
So I mixed all the ingredients – including the whole stick of melted butter that the recipe called for – and it was a weird recipe where you mix all the guts of the cake, but then sprinkle the actual cake mix on top. I had read ahead enough to know that. However, I had not read carefully enough to realize that the melted stick of butter was supposed to be dumped over the dry cake mix just before putting it in the oven. Well, maybe some of that butter will make up for that missing egg, I reasoned.
But you see, dry cake mix is just dry cake mix no matter how long you bake it, and naturally that was my last stick of butter, so I thought maybe melting some margarine and hastily dumping over the top of the cake once it was already in the oven might be good enough.
So the cake baked and, surprisingly, it came out looking fairly cake-like. However, it came out of the oven approximately 3 minutes before we had to leave to go to the boys’ conferences, which meant there would be no time for cooling.
It occurred to me that I could simply bring the frosting separately and one of the teachers would probably be kind enough to put it on later when they were ready to eat it…I remember thinking that, but next thing I knew, I was attempting to spread frosting on a burning hot pile of cake mix…it didn’t go well, but hey, it was done! All I had to do was throw on some plastic wrap and get out the door.
Any of you familiar with physics (or baking) might know what happened next…having trapped all of the heat in with the plastic wrap, the frosting proceeded to melt into a pool of bubbly froth. As an added bonus, that stick of butter that wasn’t supposed to be in there began seeping through the foil cake pan, leaving a slick, fatty film on everything it touched. Yum.
At this point, it would have been easy to just pitch the thing. To pretend I forgot my volunteer duties entirely or even go explain to the woman at the front desk that I simply f*ed up the cake I was supposed to bring. But no, by this point I was determined to get that damn thing inside that school. I mean, it smelled pretty good.
But here’s what it looked like:
As I set it down in the school office, I muttered some embarrassed apologies about not having enough time to let it cool (no need to mention the butter incident) and then I fled. They don’t know who I am! I thought. I didn’t give them my name!
Do I think anyone ended up eating the melting cake of buttery death? No, I have a feeling that if anyone dared to cut into it, they were met with a pool of oily orange slop. For all I know, it made them all vomit up all of the delicious food that the other parents were nice enough to bring. I’m kind of hoping it just got thrown out based on appearance.
In retrospect, I should have given them my name, as it would have ensured that I was never again asked to provide food items at any event. But who knows, maybe next time I’ll redeem myself…maybe next time I’ll attempt my first soufflé...or flambé! What could possibly go wrong?