I went to hear Rick Tramonto, a very famous chef who’s appeared on The Food Network, currently owns three popular restaurants, and has seven published cook books, speak a few weeks ago. He said a lot of things, but one thing he said that will always stick with me is “It’s about the music, not the lifestyle.” You know those larger than life quotes people give you, where you understand what they’re supposed to mean, but they feel too broad for you to have experienced them? Yeah, that’s about how I felt. This man had so many more struggles to conquer. And here I am in a good home with loving parents, wondering where the heck I‘m going with my life. These questions played in my mind as I made my friend’s dad’s surprise birthday cake.
Friday afternoon rolled around sooner than I’d thought. Luckily I’m an expert in the field of last-minute-dessert-making, probably because I have such great practice from my last-minute-projecting-doing; now who told you school teaches you nothing?
My first mistake was with the cake. I was stubborn. I now realize the cake will always win. When the cake says fluffy in the title, what it really means to say is: don’t try to carve me, I’ll crumble and crush your hopes and dreams. Another genius plan I’d formed so that I could get a few extra hours of sleep was to use long glass tins to bake the cakes in. Only problem? The cake wouldn’t come out and when it did, it came in a hundred cracked pieces. Leave glass tins to brownie making! That left me with two useable pans and no cake recipe. When I found this recipe, I squeezed my eyes shut, crossed my fingers, and prayed that after 70 minutes of baking, it would be good. It was so good that I stayed up to go an extra 2 rounds of baking with my two pans!
Best Buttermilk Cake
3 sticks of butter
3 1/2 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 graulated sugar
2 teaspoons vailla bean paste or vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk * recipe below
Sift together flour, salt, and baking soda.
In mixer beat butter and slowly add sugar, beat well.
Add eggs, one at a time
Scrape down sides, add vanilla extract.
Slowly add a third of the flour mixture, mix until combined. Add a third of buttermilk, mix until combined. Continue until all combined.
Grease and flour pan before pouring.
Bake 75 minutes at 300 degrees, or until toothpick comes out clean.
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar
Let sit 5-10 minutes
Thoughts: This is a great cake that is delicious alone. If you want to add extra something, add frosting! The cake itself isn’t way too sweet and goes really well with frosting.
Tips: Make sure to bake until it’s golden on the top or slightly pulling away from the pan.
The clock was rolling around to two in the morning, my kitchen was a mess, and I realized my biggest mistake yet. When giving my friend and her family the samples of the frostings, I was making up recipes off the top of my head. I didn’t measure anything out or write anything down. Maybe people are most creative at night, or maybe I just knew I couldn’t mess this up, but after trying all different measurements this was the recipe I chose.
3 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon strawberry imitation
2-4 large strawberries diced and thrown in (leave a little on the end to squeeze into bowl as juice)
Mix butter and powdered sugar until creamy
Put mixer on low, add strawberry imitation
Wash strawberries and dice, leave about 2/4 inch of red on the end and save. Throw in diced straberries and mix on high for 11 seconds.
Squeeze the juices of the tops into the bowl and mix on medium
After rocking out to Nickelback for fourteen hours I hit the hay at 2 a.m. with a carved and dirty iced cake. The next day I ended up covering the cake in fondant and adding details for an additional five hours. I handed my friend a nineteen hour cake and she handed me fifty dollars, minus thirty that went to my mom for ingredients.
I sat on my stoop, smiling. It might have only been twenty dollars, but somebody was paying me to do what I loved. And when I looked down at that twenty dollars in my hands, bolstering with satisfaction, I knew this is what I wanted to do no matter what I got paid. And that’s when I understood: It’s about the music, not the lifestyle.