I’m a pretty amazing cook. Quite awesome in fact. Just don’t ask my kids. They don’t really appreciate a fine osso bucco or chili prawns. I love cooking from scratch and sourcing interesting ingredients. Tahitian vanilla beans. Artisanal flour blends. Valrhona chocolate anyone? And yes, Irish butter DOES taste better.
I’ll be totally honest and fess up that all of this loving care and attention wasn’t just for my family’s sake. It was for mine too because I don’t actually enjoy mediocre food. But not all of my efforts are appreciated and I can end up with hurt feelings. Or, I could have, BEFORE....
Enter the cake Lesson. For birthdays at my house I get excited to make homemade birthday cakes. I fold and sift, measure and weigh the contents, all with love. I drive around the city getting The Best ingredients. When baking, I meticulously follow every detail. And yes, mise en place is as much fun as it looks on cooking programs.
At last it’s time… the moment of glory. Happy Birthday has been sung and candles blown out. I’m ready to embrace the swoons, whoops, and accolades. I can feel the shy blush rising in my cheeks. I know I’ll probably field suggestions that I ditch my career and become a Michelin pastry chef. Instead, my family gobbled it down, and off they went. Just like that. No swoons. No odes, sonnets, or tributes were written. No squeals of delight. Just, “Thanks Mamma. That was good.”
So much for that.
A few months later I was in a bind and needed a cake quick. I can’t recall if we were zipping off to a cottage or needed a last minute cake for a bake sale. Being unevolved (then) I wasn’t yet at the point where I could simply buy a cake (how novel!). It needed to be homemade, but not an all day affair.
Let me introduce you to 7-Up cake. It’s a veritable chemical hoedown, almost a boxed cake, but with a bit of flare. By flare, I mean 7-Up and an instant pudding mix. Stir it up; whack it in a bundt pan. No fuss. No muss. Barely any cleanup and zero expectations.
Wouldn’t you know it – the crowd went wild. I couldn't believe my ears. They declared it The Best Cake Ever. They swooned. They praised. They begged for seconds. I stood there scowling. Eyes winced. Jaws clenched. There may have been a low growl. “This? THIS is delicious?!!” I thought to myself. I wanted to scream,
THIS IS BULLSH*T!
THIS IS BULLSH*T CAKE!!!!
Turns out, my family loves bullsh*t cake. I learned my lesson. Five lessons in fact. Here they are:
- You can’t be angry with someone for his or her personal taste
- Know your audience
- Sometimes good enough is awesome
- Taking the easy way out can be an acceptable option
- Lowbrow trumps highbrow occasionally
If you ever have the desire to enjoy a slice of bullsh*t cake with a fine Americano, you can whip up your own with this recipe (link).