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A little out of practice, I set out to bake a birthday cake

By Edward A. Forbes

The Bulletin

I wanted to give my grandson something different for his eighth birthday. I decided that I would make him a cake. I haven’t done any serious baking in years. What could go wrong?

The big day was approaching far too fast for me. I decided I needed to make a test cake. I am a member of a group that has dinner meetings a few times a month. One of these is a club business meeting followed by dinner on the first Tuesday of the month. This is a bonus because my grandson’s birthday was three days after the meeting.

I gathered the ingredients required to make cake number one. Box mix, eggs, milk, butter, vanilla extract, and Pam Baking Spray are all required to make the cake. I pre-measured the ingredients, placed them in individual containers, and lined them up in order of use (to prevent me from forgetting any).

I didn’t put the three eggs in a container. I laid them carefully on the countertop. Defying gravity and the laws of physics, one of those miscreant eggs rolled uphill and leaped off the countertop to do a Humpty Dumpty imitation on the kitchen floor. You know, sadly, you can’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again - even to remove it from the floor. The five-second rule has been ruled invalid - and how would you pick up that poor suicidal egg, anyway?

Despite this mishap, the cake was a success at the meeting (there were no fatalities anyway).

It was time to prepare the cake for my soon-to-be eight-year-old grandson’s birthday. I set the icing on the counter and began gathering the ingredients for the cake.

I got the box mix, a stick of butter, milk, and 4 eggs (none for the floor, all for the cake). I started preheating the oven and got the dish to prepare. I was out of Pam Baking Spray, and I wasn’t going to the grocery store again.

I knew I could do it the old-fashioned way. I got the Crisco out of the fridge, a food handler’s gloves (Crisco is messy), and flour. Greased up the pan with the Crisco and coated it with flour (I remembered it should be sifted first).

I used a scoop to get the flour out of the bag and poured it into the sifter, and some of it sailed on through onto the counter. I cranked the handle on the sifter to get a fine flour coating over the Crisco, the counter, my clothes, and the floor. I shook the excess from the baking dish into the sink, added the batter to the dish, and placed it into the preheated oven. I start cleaning up the flour bomb, dirty dishes, and bowls.

The cake was cooling on the rack, the icing was warming to room temperature, and I had purchased a tube of blue icing that clearly states on the label that I can use the tube to pipe icing onto the cake in a decorative fashion. I just wanted to put a blue “Happy Birthday” on the cake beneath a curved rainbow of sprinkles. I began applying the sprinkles to the top of the cake in a curve that resembled a rainbow with some major deformities.

No matter, he would never notice. I then opened the tube of blue icing and started writing “Happy Birthday” on the white icing. I got “Happy” down and noticed that it encompassed most of the width of the cake with no room beneath for “Birthday.”

What was I to do? My only solution was to make it “Happy 8.” My icing application looked nothing like the ones at the bakery, but it wasn’t horrible, either.

I took the cake to my son’s home, and the youngsters all came and stared at it. It was safely locked inside of the cake carrier. My daughter-in-law provided a number candle and placed it in the upper region of my sprinkled rainbow.

We waited for my son to arrive home from work to do the ceremony (lighting of candle and singing of Happy Birthday song) and then saved the cake for dessert. The kids were delighted, and the birthday boy got to blow out the candle.

As we settled down, the youngest granddaughter came up to me, snuggled, looked up, and said, “Paw Paw I’m still three.”

And I responded, “Three is a wonderful age to be, as is eight.”

I love those children. They loved the cake.

(Edward Forbes wants to hear from you. Email him at or send comments by snail mail to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX. 77516.)


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