Monday, December 6, 2010

Kate Is a Danger to Herself and Cake Mix

Tonight, I did something of which I am ashamed.

I baked cupcakes.

From a box.

As you will see, I have already paid for this act in emotional pain and suffering. Shockingly, I didn't burn myself. What? Oh, sorry, I've gotten ahead of myself.

I should start at the beginning. Over the weekend, I acquired a box of Funfetti cake mix to make cupcakes for a wedding shower. Hey, at least I make my own buttercream (featuring little sprinkles to make it look like that alleged frosting you buy in a can). I had eggs, and the only other cake ingredients are water and oil. Who doesn't have vegetable oil?

[Awkward silence as Kate stares into her cabinet in disbelief; notes that it is 9:45 p.m. and really, really cold outside; and convinces herself that no one will be able to tell if she cobbles together 1/3 cup of oil from a couple different varieties that were never meant for use in baked goods whose main appeal is the little sprinkles.]

So anyway, the batter was finished. Into the oven go 24 mini cupcakes. Ten minutes later, out come 24 not-so-mini cupcakes. Apparently I struggle with the concept of "fill the muffin cups 2/3 of the way." By this time I was getting a little antsy, so I upgraded to full-size cupcakes for the rest of the batter. But did I mention that I had gone a touch overboard for those first 24 cupcakes? I stretched the remaining sprinkly goop across the 12 cups as best I could, predicting the full-size cupcakes to come out the same size as their tiny brethren, and threw them in the oven.

At this point, I noticed that the first batch seemed a little jiggly and underbaked. Not especially interested in causing a Salmonella outbreak at a public health school, I decided to bake them a bit longer and tossed them into the oven with the other pan.

Did I mention that I have a tiny oven? Oh, and I only have one oven rack. But somehow, it seemed that all three trays fit on the rack. I was legit shocked and delighted.

Or not. Four minutes later, I went to retrieve the mini cupcakes. Remember your earth science class when you learned about tectonics and they showed you the picture of the plates stacking on top of each other like this? Yeah. This was the situation on my tragic, tiny oven rack.

[Brief moment of panic as Kate wonders if all is lost.]

Okay. I grabbed my oven mitts and successfully extricated the subjugated cupcakes from the oven. No big deal--a few slightly smooshed, but certainly nothing that a pound of frosting can't fix (seriously, a pound of frosting; I don't kid around). Now to pull the other tray away from the back of the oven... by which I mean, push it away from me with my unwieldy glove until it falls face down into the bottom of the oven. You know what else is in the bottom of the oven? Why, you're right-- it is the heating element!

Not everyone knows this, but my mom is a really talented baker and cake decorator, and when I was four years old, she baked my nursery school teacher's wedding cake. It was beautiful, but when she baked a practice cake for my class, the batter overflowed, igniting as it sat on the heating element, causing panic-stricken little Katie to beg to evacuate the house. So you can imagine my stream of thought as this debacle unfolded:

Son of a bitch! Shit. Okay. How do you get a 350 degree pan out of a tiny box, all surfaces of which are also 350 degrees? Turn off the oven and shut the door. Is that smoke? Shit shit shit fuck shit. Shut the door! Maybe without air, it will put itself out. If it worked for Mom, it can work for me. Okay, now open the window to let the smoke out; you cannot be that girl who sets off the fire alarm at 10:00 p.m. on a Monday when it is 25 outside. Mommy, can I go play in the sandbox? Where is my fire extinguisher... do I not own a fire extinguisher? Are you fucking KIDDING ME?

Fortunately, there was only a small puff of smoke, because none of the sad remains of this shitstorm was touching the heating element. So clad in pajamas and oven mitts, I removed the oven rack-- which is now named Judas, incidentally-- and began scooping partially baked cupcake batter out of the bottom of my oven with a spatula. It either looks like a baked goods murder scene or like My Little Pony pounded a couple Four Lokos and then lost its cookies. I am super excited to finish cleaning that tomorrow.

By the way, this was not fun. There was nothing fun about the Funfetti. This was Catastrophetti.

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