Sunday, January 15, 2012

In Which I Buy Cake Mix

Last month Uncle Pookie saw and thought he had to have a castle-shaped bundt cake pan. (My mistake for showing it to him!) So then he wanted to show off the pan by using it to make cakes for a couple of pre-Christmas gatherings. This necessitated my coming up with something to put in the pan. Because I gave up most baking years ago, the only cake recipe I have made enough times to know it's utterly reliable is the Gingerbread Cake recipe from Home Cooking (mentioned here) and I didn't want to use that. So something easy and quick that UP could make himself if I didn't have time? Cake mix to the rescue?

I don't like cake mixes. I'd only ever bought two cake mixes in my life--one bought when I wanted chocolate cake in what was then a bachelor's kitchen (hence no basic ingredients for cake) and another years later when I saw this thread on Pattern Review about pie filling cakes and was overcome with a curious desire to try the chocolate cherry version. I couldn't deny that the pie filling cake was easy and just tasty enough to pass muster. So I picked up some mixes and the the resulting cakes were okay--cute as (moderately attractive) buttons, in fact, with maraschino cherries resting in the towers and, on one cake, the door and windows outlined in frosting; the Nordic Ware people make a good pan.

Now here's the warped part. Afterward I found myself think of this non-event a few times with embarrassment. Apparently, without realizing it, I'd gotten some sort of small charge out of being able to say I'd only ever bought two cake mixes (as if that made me better than anyone who couldn't say it!) and here I'd gone and doubled the number  of cake mixes I'd bought. I'd contributed a dessert  to a gathering that wasn't homemade, but a mix. Twice! I was disappointed with myself for doing something that isn't remotely a sin or even mildly unethical.; it isn't even socially unacceptable in most places.

Noticing this, I said to myself, This is stupid, and I went out and did the only thing I could think of: I bought another cake mix. I bought a spice cake one, I mixed it with caramel apple pie filling and an extra spoon of cinnamon, I dotted brown sugar on top of the batter before I baked it, and I served the resulting pieces of cake with a dollop of poor man's whipped cream (Cool Whip). It was pretty darned good. And I'm over whatever the hell was wrong with me.

What does it all mean? Damned if I know. Probably that I spend too much time on minutiae. Maybe that I'm neurotic. Maybe that I just need more going on in my life.

Anyway, for anyone who's not subscribed to Pattern Review, here's the recipe:

1 cake mix, dry [regular 2 layer size]
3 eggs
1 can pie filling [21 oz]

Combine ingredients till well blended. Put in greased and floured pan.
Bake at 350ºF. Toothpick test for doneness.

9 x 13 pan........35-40 min.
10 x 15 pan.......25-30 min. [jelly roll pan]
12 x 17 pan.......20-25 min
12 cup bundt pan.........40-50 min. [Cool in pan 25 minutes before turning over.]

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