Monday, 12 May 2008
the mother of all cakes
" I'll be out in a few minutes. Don't go anywhere," Another unnecessary comment made to my very alert and oriented 91 year old Godmother, Amelia, sitting in the front seat.
" I'll be right here."
I locked the door for a sense of added security. For some reason, probably PMS, I was feeling nervous and needed to know that she would be there when I got back. It's a perfectly safe area. She's not a wanderer. I was just feeling a little nervous. My brother and his wife and kids were waiting back at the house. My folks were en route home from the restaurant, and I had offered to get the dessert. Didn't have time to bake, as planned, yet still wanted to to find a nice cake. Should have stopped at Shoprite. They have the best baked goods...Instead, I got this idea that I could get a really nice cheesecake or somthing fancy at the diner. I had no idea if they even had a whole cake. As soon as I got inside I scanned the area for the revolving dessert case. There it was. Front and center. The showcase. I made a beeline for it and stood there in awe. The hostess saw me standing in front of it and came over.
"Can I help you?"
"Yes, do you sell these things whole?"
I was eyeing the beauty on top. Over-sized 10 inch white iced with ribbons of chocolate fudge down the sides. Quarter sized blobs of fudgey chocolate, alternating with white butter cream, had been lobbed around the top perimeter. A thin veil of velvety chocolate cake crumbs were sprinkled on top. Wedding cake variety, no doubt. In my opinion, this cake had a certain dignity about it. An air of authority. This. This would be our Mother's Day cake. An entity which almost dared to be messed with. Inviting. Tempting, and ultimately, punishing.
Just below the Mother of all cakes, was an identical cake which had been entered. Devastated. Inside were several layers, running the gamut of cake types and textures. Chocolate, Vanilla, fudge filling. The middle section, and perhaps an actual Freudian slip, was the fat maker of all fat makers. CHEESECAKE!
We stood in an uncomfortable silence, the hostess and I, watching as it revolved around and around. It was as if she had no idea and didn't know what to say.
" I'd have to check."
" Please do. I have to get a cake, and I have to make it quick."
I waited with baited breath, hypnotized by the sight of desserts revolving around before me. Around and around on the lower tiers, Chocolate cake, Coconut cake, Lemon meringue pie, marble cheese, cherry cheese, plain cheese. Court Jesters for the mother of all layercakes. Above them all, the Queen of the tiers, Sweet Mother of all cakes, would soon be gracing our mother's day table.
" Thirty Eight."
" Thirty eight?"
" Yep "
" Isn't that a little expensive for a simple layer cake?"
" No that's about right. We charge around 4 dollars per slice, and there are 12-16 slices there so that's actually a deal."
For a stingy moment, I considered buying the one that had already been hacked at. I know. But I did the math. It would still cost the same if I got 9 slices without the Regalia. Furthermore, the image of bringing my mom home a half eaten cake just didn't sit right. Cheesy.
I know what I should have done. I should have turned around and walked back out to my car and left the parking lot.
But no. I panicked.
" OK. Box her up."
She took the cake back to the kitchen to find a box. The whole time I am debating about it. Here she comes. The way she lugged it in her arms, I could tell it was packing cheese. The greek guy behind the counter smiled at me.
"That's a nice cake."
"Yeah, alittle steep, but it's pretty."
I handed him my card and waited. Took him a while to figure out how to ring it all up. I debated still. He handed me the receipt to sign. 40 and change. Oh man. At Pechts Cake Box this would unheard of. I could have gotten a BEAUTIFUL cake for 20 at Shoprite! Highway robbery. I kept it all inside...seething.
When I approached the car, I could not see my Godmother. I kept walking towards the car heaving. Where is she? Oh...OK. There she is. She's a petite lady. I handed her the box and she took a peek inside.
"Hmmm... looks good."
" I hope so."
" What is it?"
"Mother's Day Crumb cake."
"I saw white icing. That's no crumb cake."
"It's a surprise."
We get back to the house and I come around to her side of the car to get the flowers, cake and my Godmother. Flowers in one hand Cake in the other and heave ho it all into the house.
I take the cake into the kitchen and open the box. Wow...that's some cake.
" I hope it's good." (still brooding over the 38 bucks)
About an hour later we all sit down for coffee and cake. Damian had come through with the Mother's Day Cannolis. Time comes to cut into the mother of all cakes. My lovely sister in law, Barb, mother of 4, did the honors. The knife hits the cheese sludge and slows up.
"Something's in here."
What do you think it is?
" Guess again."
"Hmm...Cheesecake. Interesting. This is gonna be good."
Knowing how cheesecake tends to go right to my middle, I sampled a nice narrow wedge of it. Cardboard. Tasteless cardboard, except for the lard icing and cheesecake.
" Get it out of here!" I was thinking.
My mom said she thought it was nice. "Low sugar", and "not sickeningly sweet", I believe is what she said. As if it was healthy. It was sickeningly tasteless. Like so many wedding cakes I have sampled, a bitter disappointment.
I should have gotten an Entennmans. My mom plans to serve that to her bible study. Now that's not right.
" That's OK, It was the thought that counts".
Unlike the cake, Mom is forgiving. Next time I will find the time to bake.