Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Great Cake Challenge

When we were youngins and all living under one roof, my family had the tradition that on your birthday, you get to choose a special birthday cake. I remember my dad requesting German Chocolate quite often.

I always like an excuse to bake something new, so when my parents' 40th wedding anniversary/retirement party rolled around I knew German Chocolate was at the top of my list. I asked my mom for her recipe, which she actually couldn't find, but she sent over a similar one found here.

Now let me set up the real story. M and I planned to start the drive from Chicago to my hometown at 7pm on Friday night. The drive is 5+ hours, so I figured we'd make it to my brother's house by 12am, which is actually 1am Ontario time. Fine. That meant the cake must be baked by 6:30pm so it would have enough time to cool before starting the drive.

I got home early from work, around 3:45pm and started on the cake right away. I thought I'd have plenty of time to finish everything before an appointment I had to leave for at 5pm. I thought wrong. Never underestimate how long a cake actually takes to bake. Forget about what the recipe says! Leave yourself a good two or three hours, I say!

I started by making the frosting, which was relatively painless. Good start, good start. See, I was so optimistic that I took the time to document with pictures! Note how the pictures end here...
The ingredients are all set out.

The pecans are being roasted!

The frosting is complete! (P.S. Next time I'd make two batches.)

Then I started on the cake batter. It took FOREVER. As I whipped the butter and sugar together I nervously watched the clock creep closer and closer to 5pm. The cake still had to bake for 30-40 minutes. I contemplated cancelling my appointment. I started to mix up the vinegar and milk to create buttermilk. In my frantic rushing about, I spilled the entire thing. At 4:59pm I was wiping up stinky buttermilk off the floor. I swore. A lot. At 5:05pm I gave up and threw the half finished cake batter into the fridge so I could leave for my appointment.

I rushed around and made it back home for 6:30pm. Half an hour till departure time and I had to finish mixing the batter, bake the cake, plus pack my luggage. I told the husband to get comfortable, this might take a while. I didn't actually say it that nicely though, if you catch my drift.

After 30 minutes of baking, the cake was still very wobbly. After ten more minutes.. just as wobbly. Twenty more minutes.. not quite baked, but I took it out of the oven anyway, covered it with tinfoil, set it on a cutting board, carried it out to the car with oven mitts, and rode home with a steaming, slightly undercooked cake on my lap. We rolled into my brother's driveway at 2:30am!

I was really very nervous for people to try the cake, but for the ordeal that it went though, I must say it turned out better than expected! Not the BEST I've ever had, but pretty darn good!

This is obviously not a picture of my cake, but if you follow the recipe, yours will end up looking something like this!


  1. it was delicious Jilly....no matter how frustrating it got...you didn't swear like a sailor did you??..I just can't see/hear those words coming from you..but then again you are prego so thats probably where all those swear words were coming from...right??...lol

  2. Now you know why a decent cake costs so much! They aren't easy.

    But you know, they dont have to be pretty to taste good :)

  3. that frosting looks delish!

  4. Cake was yummy! Sounds like something I would do :) I'm not a good time manager.

  5. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall watching you in action. I think it would have been hilarious. The cake was delicious and your dad was very appreciative of you making it. Thanks for being you!!!