The Layer Cake

Liam and I could easily become FoodTV junkies. Recently, while watching an early evening special on dessert making, I whispered to Liam, “Do you like to watch cooking or football better?” No reply, he was too engrossed in the egg breaking and flour pouring. After watching one cake being made, Liam said, “Mom, I need to make a real cake.” Even though it was 6 p.m., I relented. We hauled the KitchenAid up from the basement. We got all the ingredients out – “all” being three, including the cake mix. At 6:05 Bill zipped out to the store to get vegetable oil for us.

Liam eagerly completed each step. We broke our first egg together, and I used the biggest piece of shell to scoop out the little pieces. Then I gritted my teeth as he claimed, “I can do it myself now.” There were no shells in the last two eggs! We counted to 30 and watched while the ingredients slowly blended. Then we set the timer and watched the batter spin for two minutes. I turned it off and lifted the mixer attachment, and without hesitation, Liam leaned in and started licking the mixer attachment. His interest in the remaining tasks waned. As he finished his mixer lollipop, I poured half the batter into a round pan and half into a square pan. They were the first pans to surface from the back of the cupboard. I will never get invited to Ina Garten’s based on merits of my creation of a layer cake. With the circle precariously balanced on the square, it looked more like a squatty satellite on a stand than anything remotely edible.

But we still served it to our dinner guests the following night and no one complained. They were probably too awestruck after having had to eat dinner while gazing at my wig perched atop the Dartington vase. I didn’t realize until after they had left that I hadn’t put it upstairs. Thankfully, they are good, established friends.

To provide advance warning to our guests of the oddities they may find in our house, I need a little plate like Mom has had on her kitchen wall for years. It reads: “Come in, sit down, relax, converse. Our house doesn’t always look like this. Sometimes it’s even worse.”

Staying strong with a forkful of milk chocolate frosted chocolate cake,