Awhile back I wanted to make this amazing chocolate mayonnaise cake for Tim (don’t knock it ’til you try it). My mom used to make one for my dad’s birthday every year. I still have vivid memories of her beautifully crafted mayonnaise cake sitting all alone on the counter…my drooling and agonizing over when I could start self-inducing a sugar coma. Of course, that coma had to wait until AFTER dinner and my dad is the SLOWEST eater on the planet. We’d all be finished for twenty minutes and he’d just managed to clear a quarter of his plate. My brothers and I had to sit there and watch him eat…hands gripping the bottom of our chairs…eyeing that cake…waiting……
My mom’s cake was two-tired with perfect, even layers of frosting inside and out and sat perfectly centered on the serving dish…the moist cake layers cuddling up nicely with the whipped cream center and the rich chocolate frosting holding it all together. It is a chocolate lovers paradise and Tim is a self-proclaimed choc-o-holic… so it only made sense for me to make one for him. I told him he hadn’t had chocolate until he had this cake.
I couldn’t wait to present my rendition of the mayonnaise cake to Tim. Unfortunately, my desire to re-create the cake I so fondly remembered far outweighed my cake baking abilities. I didn’t allow the cake to cool long enough and the whipped cream frosting between the two cake layers started melting. I tried adding more cold whipped cream frosting, thinking the cold cream would help solidify the liquid cream. That just made more of a mess. I panicked and slapped the top cake round onto the runny whipped cream and hurriedly began scooping huge dollops of the chocolate frosting onto the cake, running my spatula all around the sides of the cake, trying to stem the flow of liquid whipped cream. Turns out, that doesn’t work so well. Everything just started mixing together. I tried adding more chocolate frosting…and learned very quickly that more is NOT better. My cake apparently got too heavy to hold itself together and imploded. The result looked like I had taken a perfectly good cake round, crumbled it in my fists , dumped it on a plate and then tried to turn it back into a cake round using whipped cream and chocolate frosting as glue. The worst part was… Tim was on his way home, waiting on a cake I’d talked up so much only one with gold rimmed edges that sang the Hallelujah chorus when being sliced would have sufficed. This was the result of my first, and only, attempt:
The cake was so monumentally disastrous that a picture had to be taken to forever memorialize my mayonnaise cake.
I tried once more to make a cake for Tim – I wanted to redeem myself from my catastrophe. The past was long enough forgotten. I decided to make his absolute FAVORITE cake: German chocolate. I wanted to add my own little touch with homemade frosting. That’s where I went wrong. The homemade part in front of the frosting. I should have just gone with my instincts, tugging at me in the grocery store, trying to remind me what happened with my last cake attempt…to persuade me to take the easy route and buy the pre-made stuff in the tub. It tasted just fine and was simple. But noooo, not me, I wanted it to be *special* and special to me meant I had to MAKE frosting.
Very large mistake.
Apparently, the frosting recipe I stumbled upon must be cooked over an open flame and chemistry is not only important – it is vital. I learned from at least one previous catastrophe and baked the actual cake hours before I started on the frosting, letting it sit and rest and cool and DO everything else a cake is supposed to do. I knew without a doubt that nothing would be melting off this time (famous last words). As for the frosting…I read the recipe and mixed everything together in the correct order in the pan…let it simmer…let it reduce…turned off the stove…just like the directions said… and waited for it to harden up…..and I continued to wait….I waited a little longer….finally in the middle of our dinner and after almost an hour I turned off the stove, I had to stick it in the freezer. By the time we were finished with dinner and ready for the cake, the frosting was the consistency of pea soup. I more or less poured it over the cake and, much to my dismay, it just kept on going. It slid right off the cake, onto the plate, off the plate, onto the counter and finally all the way down the cabinets and all over the floor. My initial shock of what was happening didn’t allow my reflexes to react quickly enough to the message my brain was desperately trying to send.
I managed to salvage some of the frosting…but then realized I did something wrong with the whole cornstarch bit. The frosting had this chalky texture…nothing smooth or creamy about it.
Tim ate it… good soul. However, I think I’ve learned my lesson and I haven’t made a cake since. We buy them now.