In my case, there was no escaping the call. My father, who was a baker by trade, (his father had owned and operated a large bakery), had also gone to The Culinary Institute of America when it was still located in New Haven, Connecticut. My mother and maternal grandmother were excellent cooks and bakers in their own right. So, what would Santa bring to a six year old girl who was born into this situation? How about a Betty Crocker Baking Set? It was my Red Ryder BB gun...the Christmas present that I just had to have...and Santa came through. While the potential of getting burned on an oven rack was always present, at least you couldn't shoot your eye out!
The picture below isn't my set. I'm sure that my set was given to a younger cousin when I graduated to full size kitchen equipment. I found this set on a vintage toy website. Guess that makes me officially old. Come to think of it, if I were a car I'd qualify for one of those special antique license plates!
Unfortunately, this was one of those gifts that had to wait to be used until December 26th. No matter how I pleaded, my mother would not take the Christmas rib roast out of the oven and allow me to start baking, so I half-heartedly had to occupy myself with my other presents.
In a bizarre turn of events, by the time Christmas dinner was on the table, my brother and I started to turn into chipmunks. By that night, we were chipmunks with high fevers and confined to bed. A quick call to the pediatrician the next morning confirmed my mother's diagnosis. The doctor gave my mother instructions and told her not to bring us into the office, because we had the mumps! They were spreading all over our little town, and ruining more than a few Christmas vacations. The baking set remained untouched under the Christmas tree.
It was almost the New Year before I got to bake my first cake. The sets came with mixes, and my first ever cake was vanilla with chocolate frosting. In the true spirit of a family who loved food, the moment was caught on film. That's my Dad supervising the frosting procedure. My Mother must have taken the picture.
This milestone became one of those stories that was repeated over and over at family gatherings. Seems I doled out teensy slices to my parents and brother and polished off the rest of the cake alone in one sitting. Before you judge me too harshly, it was a very tiny cake. Really, it was just a morsel!
I've baked hundreds, (maybe thousands???), of cakes since that first attempt, and I've also learned to share. In fact, I've gotten so good at sharing, that sometimes I don't get a piece! Recently, I baked my favorite cake, Chocolate Genoise, for a book club meeting. I forgot to take a picture before I left the house, and by the time I cranked up the camera at the meeting, this was the only photo I got! Luckily, the last piece was mine.
Let me assure you, that the cake looked like the photo in the Better Homes and Gardens Entertaining with Ease Cookbook that I've owned for over 20 years. I even bought, and learned to use, a decorating comb because of this cake.
It's not an easy recipe, but it's worth the effort. Light, airy chocolate cake is frosted with espresso buttercream and then decorated with the same buttercream that's further enhanced by semisweet chocolate.
I'll be a little short on computer time for the next several days because of the Postal Service food drive that's happening this weekend. It's going to benefit the pantry with which I'm involved, and that's brought some extra work my way, so I don't have time to post the recipe. If you would like the recipe, please leave a note and I'll tell you when I'm able to jot it down. Most likely, I won't have time to visit the other Foodie Friday blogs until later next week, but I will get around to visit at some point.
If you have time, please go to Designs by Gollum and check out who's posted what this week. The lovely Michael Lee, our hostess, provides Mr. Linky to make your tour a 'piece of cake'.