Sunday, August 16, 2009

Julie and Julia Meet The Pioneer Woman or Adventures in Failed Imitations

In honor of my younger kids getting baptized, I wanted to make a special dessert, a new concoction I'd never tried before. Seeing Julie and Julia last weekend inspired me to work a little harder, to try something with more butter, requiring more skill, something more impressive.

Then I remembered the amazingly delicious cake my friend, Mary, brought to Bible study one night, a recipe she found on The Pioneer Woman blog, Strawberry Shortcake Cake.

Now before we go a step further you've GOT TO check out the official recipe. The Pioneer Woman gives step by step directions complete with pictures that beautifully document the process. You must, YOU MUST, take a look at her wonderful creation. It is a work of art. Do it. Do it now.


Do you see how exciting it would be to recreate this masterpiece? I accumulated my supplies and got to it. I followed the directions to the letter, even letting the sour cream sit until it reached room temperature. I wasn't taking any chances. The batter mixed up smooth and creamy and oh so pretty. I put it into the 8-inch cake pan as directed* and stuck it into the oven, dreaming of the oohs and aahs I'd get from our guests.

But soon a funny smell came from my oven. I ignored it at first because, well, it isn't too uncommon for me to have a little something burning off the bottom of my oven, but the smoky smell continued. I opened the oven door to see this.

No worries. I could work with this, right? Isn't that what Julia would do? I stuck a cookie sheet under the overflowing pan to catch the drips and decided to cut off the excess when the cake was done to make a perfectly shaped circle. Only when the cake was done and taken out, it looked like this:

This was more of problem.

"You know what Julia would do," my husband said, through stifled giggles.


He adopted his best Julie Child voice, picked up a piece of cake I trimmed off and said, "If it doesn't turn out exactly right, it's okay, just smush a piece on top right here and no one will ever notice."

Well, there were no pieces big enough to make up for the crater in the top of the cake and it was too late to make another one, so I decided to improvise. My Strawberry Shortcake Cake was going to happen, people! I went ahead and mashed the strawberries per the directions, which is not a neat and tidy task. Notice the pretty dots of juice all over my counter.

I decided the best strategy was to construct the cake much like you would actual strawberry shortcake right before serving. I started with the less dented side to serve my guests, but the cake just wasn't level enough to hold the strawberries and became an oozy mess.

Doesn't it bring tears to your eyes?! By the time I got to my piece it looked more like a strawberry landslide.

But despite its utter ugliness, the dessert itself was very tasty, as evidenced by my goofy husband, who had way too much fun with the whole ordeal.

So I'm sorry Pioneer Woman and Julia Child. My attempt at masterful cooking was an epic fail. At least we got a good laugh out of it.

*I conveniently overlooked the instruction about making sure the pan had at least 2-inch sides. Whoops.


MiPa said...

First, congratulations to your younger children on being baptized! How exciting.

But, secondly...Sister we must stop living parallel lives. Seriously. Jewel's birthday extravaganza Coca-Cola Cake was one of my worst looking concoctions ever made. But you are braver than me, because I didn't take pictures until after it was decorated enough to not notice how badly the thing had fallen apart when it stuck to the tin.

And thirdly, it may not have been as pretty as you had hoped, but it sure makes me want to try my hand at making it. I love strawberry shortcake. Glad everyone enjoyed eating it!

Emily a.k.a. Smoochagator said...

Oh no! This is totally something that would have happened to me. In fact, just a couple months ago I baked a boxed, just-add-eggs-and-water cake in a too-small pan aaaaand boy did it look sad! But I've found that ugly desserts usually taste just as good as pretty ones ;-)

Those step-by-step directions over at Pioneer Woman's blog? A work of art!

Erin @ Sky Blue Pink Roses said...

I think your cake looks absolutely delicious, and the original is just too "perfect." Yum! Now I want strawberry shortcake.