My disaster of a kitchen is waiting for me downstairs. Sticky sugary cooked egg whites, lovingly blended with vanilla and loads of unsalted butter - otherwise known as Swiss meringue frosting - adheres to bowls and spatulas and cook tops and cake stands. Chocolate chips spill from their bags and powdered sugar drifts to create a dusty sheen over my counter tops and floors. Butter beyond room temperature awaits a use while it melts into its package and the tile and grout counter below. When we came home late tonight with pre-pajama-ed kids from my cousin's son's ninth birthday party, Hub took one look at the clutterful kitchen and asked - with all seriousness - "Pleeeaaase. No more cake messes for at least a week."
He didn't need to ask. I'm done for awhile too. I often feel the urge to "go to town" in this way. My boxes of super refined cake flour call to me, I'm forever cracking eggs, and measuring out all the other necessary ingredients for my signature white cake. Over the past three years of stay-at-home-mom-hood, I've forced my way into becoming the unofficial "Cake Lady" for all occasions that remotely call for cake. Whether or not my friends or relatives want them, I bake cakes. Birthday. Easter. Baby Shower. My message is always the same: eat this or I'll cry. Usually, the loving people in my life oblige.
This month I was especially busy. It started with a baby shower for a pal (raspberry filled and chocolate chip cookie dough filled cupcakes), Easter (ditto), Dee's 4th birthday parties (princess crown cake and princess castle cake), girlfriend's birthday (blackberry and lemon curd filled cake), Hub's birthday (lemon curd filled cake), and most recently, 9th birthday (peanut butter cup replica cake). Whew! I'm so over it. I'm certain the butter sticks have adhered to my butt like magnets. The scale tells me it's true.
One problem, however - when I get into a manic cake baking phase - all other operations in the home suffer. I tend to tamp down on the clothes hampers like garbage bags, kidding myself that there's room for more and I'm not getting behind. Never mind that my son ran out of pants two days ago. Note to self: when Hub is spending his weekend helping me "catch up," we've really hit rock bottom.
Also, when I've got cake on the brain, I forget to shop for anything one might find outside of the spice aisle. Five bags of semi sweet chocolate chips. Check. Two jars of jumbo creamy peanut butter for the giant cake size Reese's peanut butter cup (the hope is to cut through the peanut butter cup and cake below in one swift, soft and delicious slice). Check. Eggs, eggs, eggs. Check. Lemons and blackberries and raspberries. Oh my. Check. So I venture beyond the baking aisle. It's certainly not to pick up pork chops or anything else my husband might recognize as dinner.
The whole obsession reminds me of my "theater days" as a young scribe of eleven (or so). I loved writing, editing, directing, creating sets and acting out most of the male roles in plays made from scratch by me. The actual performance time would vary, but I could occupy an entire evening or play date putting together what I believed was a top-notch production, in light of my limited resources. Costumes generally included my aunt's discarded nylon nightgowns and matching robes, and our best stage remained the basement before paint, when it was still okay for me to tack blankets to the dry wall.
I would usually bribe neighborhood kids into memorizing their lines with cupcakes. Most of the girls required promises of roles as princesses. That was no problem for me. I liked the "palace" genre anyways. My parents, however, tired of the genre, or at least the time away from alcohol with friends. So eventually I was told, as the family prepared for dinner at the Anderson's (or whomever), "No plays tonight, okay honey?"
So another dream died. Or didn't really spark. That's okay. I went to law school instead and then eventually got somewhat disillusioned. I still have the cupcakes, at least until after I get the powdered sugar scrubbed out of the grout.