It was October 1986, and I had only been married a few months. It was my husband’s birthday. In his family of six children, birthdays had always been a big deal, and since his favorite cake is angel food, I decided to invite his whole family over to our small apartment and have homemade angel food cake. This needed to be good. I was going to impress them with my baking.
The recipe called for 18 egg whites, so I carefully separated each of the 18 eggs, being careful not to get any of the yolk into the whites. I baked the cake in a tube pan, and, as the recipe calls for, I put it upside down on a bottle after baking, to cool in the pan. As it was cooling, I glanced into the kitchen to admire my handiwork, when suddenly, without warning, the bottle fell on its side, hurtling my angelic dessert to the kitchen floor. An explosion of white splattered the kitchen as I watched in horror. All I could do was sit on the floor, mourn the death of my masterpiece, and of course, eat what was left in the pan. It was heartbreakingly delicious.
I now had a decision to make. Do I make another one from scratch, as expected by all my in-laws (and therefore have 36 egg yolks in my refrigerator), or make one from a mix? I decided on the mix. Surely, his family would understand…
That evening, when I served the cake, and everyone was eating it, one of my sisters-in-law said to me, “This is wonderful! It’s amazing how much better homemade cakes are!” I smiled and thanked her for appreciating the effort it took to make. But mostly, I smiled knowing I would never have to separate 18 eggs again.
Cindy Brookshire, Write by the Rails guru and a wonderful writer who works in all sorts of genres wrote this recently: We all have a cake story. Lianne Best wrote about her chocolate pound cake gone lopsided in a “Mom on the Run” column. Now there’s a “Bake Off” challenge on the Write by the Rails website to see how many cake stories we can raise.