Note: I wrote this when my daughter was around ten years old.
It’s five in the afternoon, and I’m debating whether to sacrifice precious calories for a glass of wine, or save them for a piece of the ugliest cake on earth that my daughter, Kelly, made last night. It’s really no contest. That cake! Oh, my!
I let Kelly make it with her two friends all on their own. It was from a boxed mix so all they had to do was throw in the eggs, water, and oil. She’s made many cakes with me, so I was confident she could do it.
I was working in my office when Kelly popped in and said, “Mom, where’s the recipe for the icing?” Her friends were right behind her, on either side: one blond, one brunette, and Kelly, the redhead.
This would have been my cue to sigh, get up and lead the parade of girls back into the kitchen to find the recipe for them and stick around to oversee the proper making and frosting of the cake.
But doggone it, I was busy and I didn’t want to get up. “It’s in the recipe book on the counter by the pantry. The one we always use. You’ll find it,” I said brightly. She turned around and led her friends in formation back to the kitchen.
I’m sure going through my piles of cookbooks weighed on her patience, and she quickly gave up the search. “Oh well, I’ve made icing lots of times. It’s just a box of powdered sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla, and butter,” she probably said as she gathered the ingredients. To herself she must have been thinking: but how much butter?
I could hear the faint whir of the mixer and lots of giggling as the girls fluffed the butter, added the powdered sugar and vanilla, then shook out a few drops of green food coloring to make it pretty. Kelly has helped me frost cakes many times and knows you have to wait until the cake is cooled before icing, but in their lust for sweets, the girls put the icing on while it was still warm.
I heard her bellow, “Mo-om!” followed by a pitiful, “helllllllp!”
I ran into the kitchen, bracing myself for mangled fingers in the mixer or something worse. Oh the horror! The icing had melted into that warm cake and ran down the sides in variegated light and dark greasy green streaks. Before I could even say, “What did..?” the top layer of the cake slowly slid sideways, sliding, sliding, sliding, until the bottom edge came to a halt on the counter, and the top edge pointed up to the sky like a flying saucer.
“Mom, do something!” my daughter wailed. As if I could, I thought. Then the three of them burst out laughing as the frosting started flowing down the flying saucer in slow motion, making a seafoam green slime pool on the counter.
I laughed with them. “This is just like that ‘Macarthur Park,’ song,” I said.
“Huh?” they chorused.
The girls’ fingers poked cautiously into the puddle of green slime, and soon they were brave enough to venture a little sample. “Tastes a lot like butter,” the blond said.
I dipped my finger in. “A LOT like butter,” I laughed. “How much did you put in there?”
“Just two sticks,” Kelly answered innocently, eyes wide open and turned slightly down, the universal child’s look that said, I may be bad but aren’t I the cutest thing?
“Two sticks? It’s supposed to be six tablespoons, not two sticks. You put sixteen tablespoons of butter in that icing!”
The girls thought that was bend-over double hilarious. They laughed and licked frosting and laughed some more. We sliced ourselves an experimental piece of the bottom layer of cake, a little scared because the icing had oozed down into every crack and pore, and it looked soggy.
Oh, but that greasy green butter cake is the best thing I’ve ever tasted. All that butter could give you a heart attack but you’d die happy. We have to close our eyes to eat it, it’s so hideous.
Sure beats a glass of wine!
Another note: I wish I would have taken a picture, but I see it in my mind so clearly. I can hear those girls laughing, making fun of the cake, comparing it to every disgusting thing they could think of. And even now, ten years later, I can still recall the amazing flavor, and I am grinning like a mule eating briars as I type this. Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.
(Lyric to the song I referenced above:) MacArthur’s Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don’t think that I can take it
‘Cause it took so long to bake it
And I’ll never have that recipe again
Oh no, oh no, no, no, oh no