A Lesson from Scratch

I make Bear a cake for his birthday every year. This year I asked what kind of cake he wanted and the conversation went something like this:

“What kind of cake do you want for your birthday?” I asked.
“You know what I want,” he replied.

Bear’s favorite cake is angel food cake…and he’s always wanted me to make it from scratch.

So I decided this would be the year I would finally make angel food cake from scratch. I’ve made it a few times from a box. When Bear complained that I’d made it in a rectangle pan, I went and bought an angel food cake pan (from the thrift store of course) even though I hate having dishes in my kitchen that only serve one purpose.

But he wasn’t satisfied. He wanted it from scratch, like his mom made. I’m the queen of scratch (look at the delicious chiffon cake I made Bear last year) but the idea of a cake requiring 12 egg whites? What do you do with all of those yolks? And beating all those eggs into nice white peaks? My arm got tired thinking of holding the hand mixer for so long.

I realized I could buy the carton of egg whites-no wasted yolks- and use my new mixer with the beater attachment.

Using a high altitude angel food cake recipe, I made my first angel food cake from scratch.

And it was easy! It was a breeze. What had I been complaining about all this time? I think part of my aversion came from own mother, who refused to make this cake from scratch. After all, I learned my baking philosophy and preference to homemade from her: I’d rather bake from scratch than from a box any day.

Unfortunately, despite my best efforts and secret ingredient (lots of love!) This cake was not a perfect success. The distinctive feature of a good angel food cake is it’s airiness, something I’ve always struggled with here in the mile high city. Although the cake tasted good, it was denser than it should have been.

The cake just didn’t want to raise properly here in Denver.

Perhaps I’ll try a different high altitude recipe next year and hope for better success. Either way, moving forward I will be making this cake from scratch. Especially since it’s one more thing I can do to make Bear’s birthday special.

To focus on this specialness, this year I made his card all about him-or at least all about bears. I looked through my paper collection and found the ‘bear’ dictionary page, a map with Bear Lake and a paint swatch from Behr paint. The finishing touch was the addition of the cupcake flags from our wedding.

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