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I’m not a lumberjack, and I’m not OK.

If stupidity is doing the same mistake over and over again, then I’m not stupid. But mistakes were made. A lot of them. Just not the same ones.

I wanted to bake a “lumberjack” cake for my lumberjack, who turned 30 on Sunday (Now who’s feeling “old”!) Simple, right?

Knowing that I wasn’t quite up to this masterpiece, I elected to do a simple checkered cake instead. Baked goods like these sunglasses cookies are the height of my sophistication.sunglasses

Last Thursday, I purchased a red velvet cupcake mix – pretty standard. Just add water, oil and eggs. I wanted to wait until the middle of the day when hydro is less expensive, so I went on and measured my oil and water, and left it by the mixer. After lunch, I put it all together. I even added red food colouring, but the batter was all wrong! It was thin and soupy. I had no idea what I did wrong, or how to fix it. I popped it in the oven anyway.

It wasn’t until I was cleaning up that I solved the mystery. The box said 3/4 cup of water, but I had used a 2 cup measuring cup and had added 1-3/4 cups.

The cake didn’t rise very much. It was very dense and even though it was dry to the touch, it also felt like I could wring it out like a dish rag.

On Friday, I popped into the grocery store early in the morning to purchase a white and a chocolate cake mix. I baked the chocolate one first, measuring multiple times before adding anything. Success! I then baked the white cake, which was now hot pink after adding a whole jar of red food colouring to the mix. So it’s a little weird – just go with it! I started humming “I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay….”

Saturday morning, I set about making shortbread moose cookies, but I used 2 different brands of butter, and the dough was behaving more like puffed pastry. I finally managed to cut out 4 moose with spindly legs intact. It required 2 people and an odd assortment of kitchen utensils to transfer them from the counter to the baking tray. I watched them like a hawk. Sadly, while 4 made it safely from the oven, only 2 made it to cake decorating day.

Saturday night, I poured a tiny glass of wine and went about cutting the cakes to form the checkerboard pattern. I’d love to blame the wine, but I can’t. I’m responsible for cutting the cake wrong. I cut it into tiny cubes and tried to layer them. After an hour, and mucking up 4 cutting boards, I realized that even though I got the pattern right, it would fall apart the moment we cut into it.

I was also starting to fall apart. I would have to start again.

Sunday morning, I hit the showers early and drove bleary-eyed to the grocery store for a chocolate cake mix and a red velvet cupcake mix. I didn’t have any red food colouring left in the house. I carefully laid everything out and memorized my instructions. I also warned my family that as soon as the church service was over, I was leaving! If they wanted a ride home, they’d best be on my heels. Big Guy was due to arrive in the afternoon and we were only going to have a very short time with him before he went out with his friends. My birthday boy was going to have cake!

I didn’t even take time to change my clothes, but jumped right to my task. I was an athlete running a race and the clock stopped for no one. My family fended for themselves…I ate a half-cooked hot dog over the stove, vigilantly guarding my precious cakes.

While they cooled, I tried to temper chocolate. Tempering chocolate gives it a snap and glossy sheen. It’s accomplished by heating, cooling and reheating to specific temperatures, dependent on the type of chocolate you have. Normally it’s done over a double-boiler. I do not have a double boiler. I have a pot, a bowl and a very thick oven mitt, which made it awkward to hold the candy thermometer…which I later discovered, only starts measuring at 200F, a full 95 degrees higher than I needed. I think I successfully melted and smeared chocolate to make shards in an overly-complicated way, but I got it done and without injury. Just in time for Big Guy to arrive.

He was here 15 minutes. Long enough to open gifts, question the assorted piles of cake littering the counter, and give his mama a big hug.

leftover cake

After he left, slightly discouraged and incredibly weary, I poured a hot cup of tea and sat down to watch a video on how to cut this pointless cake.

They should have been round.

So I watched a video on how to make a minecraft checkered cake. At least it’s square. Defeated, I asked Hubby to help cut it. He was “happy” to help. We didn’t have toothpicks, so we had to use bamboo skewers. We managed to use them only on the cake, not each other. I ended up with something resembling finished product in the video, just fewer layers and wider borders. Who was I to complain? My kitchen was covered in red, pink and brown crumbs, and my kids’ birthday was over. I tossed the cake in the freezer and curled up in the fetal position on the couch.

Monday.

A day late.

I slathered homemade chocolate icing on my frozen brick and did my best to decorate it.

moose cake

cake inside

I NEVER want to look at cake again.