I have done something to anger the birthday cake gods.

I need to start off by clarifying something. Apparently, a few people who read my blog about our freezer breaking took me more literally than I thought they would. I just want to reassure you: I am not an animal killer. No need to call PETA. Referring to a “puppy in our freezer” was merely an attempt to help you imagine what kinds of noises it was making- strange yelping noises…. much like a puppy. I did not freeze a puppy.

Okay. Now, onto the real business of this post.

Jonathan told me a LONG time ago that he wanted coconut cake for his birthday.
No problem! My mom has a FANTASTIC coconut cake recipe. Last semester, my roommate and I made one and entered it into our dorm bake-off… and won.
So, on our last trip to Anchorage, I made sure I had all of the ingredients and was ready to bake.

After the birthday mud pie I made him a few days ago, I was very excited to make a proper cake for Jonathan. Since my family is coming to visit, we decided to save his celebration for then. They are coming in tomorrow, but since we have to go to Anchorage to get them, we decided to make a weekend of it. We won’t be coming back to Glennallen until Sunday afternoon, and I figured that evening would be a good time for cake. It works out perfectly, since one of the secrets of this cake is that it tastes best after it’s been sitting for a few days.

I had a list of things to do this afternoon when I got off work, so I started in on them as soon as I got home. I needed to finish cleaning & getting ready for mom, dad & the boys, I had four loads of laundry to do, and I wanted to make the cake and some muffins to have on hand for breakfasts.

Before starting anything else, I made the frosting for the cake, because it is supposed to sit in the fridge for a while before you use it. The frosting has sour cream in it. When I bought groceries the first time, I bought a giant container of sour cream, and then froze it. According to the research I did, freezing sour cream is perfectly fine, but you should only expect to bake with it after that, because it is the “consistency of cottage cheese.” (By the way, I also learned that sour cream lasts longer in the fridge if you store it upside down. Who’d have thunk?!)

MY sour cream was NOT the consistency of cottage cheese. It was more like milk. Hmmmm….

Anyway, I made the frosting (using only half the sour cream the recipe called for), and put it in the fridge.

After I had cleaned our bathroom and made four floor beds, I headed back to the kitchen. I made the batter, which is rather simple (it starts with a cake mix!) then went for pans. It was supposed to be a three layer cake, but all I had was 2 round pans…. and a square pan! Again, hmmmm….

I knew I could bake two layers, then another layer, but I wanted to expedite this process as much as possible. So, I decided that it was simply going to be a quirky birthday cake, with two round layers and a square layer. And it would be fine.

Pouring the batter into the pans, I realized that there was barely enough to go around. They were MAJORLY thin layers. A phone call to my mom confirmed that that was to be expected, though, so I went with it.

I put all three pans in the oven- there wasn’t REALLY enough room in there, but, again, I wanted to expedite. So I crammed them in there and walked away to make my muffins. After they were all mixed up and ready to go in the oven, I checked on the cakes. And almost died.

Apparently, once the oven door was closed, there REALLY WASN’T enough room in there. One of the pans was tilted on it’s side… and all of the cake was in one place.

Jonathan tried to help me spread the cake back out in the pan… but it just didn’t work.

So THAT layer went in the trash.

The next two layers came out BEAUTIFULLY… I was very excited for my two layer, half square, half round cake. I let them cool for a bit then flipped the square layer onto a wire rack. I happily banged away at the bottom of the pan to help the cake fall out, like normal. I banged and banged, waiting for the dull sound to turn to a hollow sound that means the cake fell. But after about 5 minutes of banging, I began to suspect something was not right. And I was right.

I took a moment to stare at the calamity. Then I walked away from it. Then I came back and looked some more. Then walked away again. Then, I’m not gonna lie, a few tears squirted out of my eyes. But just as I was reaching a crescendo, the hilarity of the whole situation hit, and it all turned into a bubbly, teary, hysterical laugh that made Jonathan get his car keys and announce that we were going to the store to buy another cake mix.

And so, we marched out into the -19 degrees, crunched across the snow to our car, and drove to the store.

The second time around, I decided to just START with only two round layers…

And everything went absolutely beautifully. The batter was great, there was just the right amount of cake in each pan, and they baked wonderfully.
As I said, it all went beautifully.
Until I tried to flip one of the layers out of the pan onto the plate.

OH MY GOSH. I don’t know WHAT I did to the birthday cake gods, but it must have made them VERY VERY ANGRY.

Anyway. I pieced it back together, put it on the plate, and frosted the booger. And it turned out pretty decent.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so… triumphant… over cake.

The good news is, the cranberry-orange muffins went off without a hitch. I didn’t have any of those little paper muffin cups, so I used parchment paper. It worked great, and it was cuter. =) (Okay, so the picture doesn’t make them look so good, but I promise they do in real life. Food photography isn’t my strong suit.) AND, as my cousin Brian would have said a year ago, “they’re dee-WISH-us!”



  1. I was wondering about the “puppy”…I thought you really did mean a dog! Sorry you had such a time with the cake 😦 The finished product looks GREAT! Have fun with your family!! I know you will 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  2. I had to laugh WITH you because at some point in my married life, I too have done the same with the cakes…sounds like you handled it well 🙂 The finished product looks wonderful! Enjoy your family and your first Thanksgiving as a wife!!

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