Ahhh...A Cake To Remember

I am a "take a class person". That is not to say that I LOVE going to school, because that is definitely NOT the case (I know...strange for an ex-teacher to say; guess that's why I'm an ex-teacher!). I re-entered college to finish my degree after the birth of my fourth child. Remember, the 80's were basically filled with getting married and giving birth. So, this explains why I'm not really a fan of sitting in a classroom. However, there are certain things that I have wanted to learn to do over the years and I know that the only way to learn to do them correctly is to take a class. Oh, I have taken classes to learn how to smock, knit, paint, cook, play golf, do yoga and probably many other things that I can't think of right now. The class that I am currently enrolled in, is a bread baking class. I have wanted to learn how to bake bread for quite some time now...even tried it, got bread baking cookbooks, but I have never been able to master the art of bread baking. Thus, I am learing to bake bread this week. I have never been much of cook. My mother and sister are really good cooks. I mentioned that my father passed away when I was 6 years old, but did I mention that my sister and I are 15 years apart in age?! Yes, so, you see, Mother was always a home maker when my sister was growing up. She had hot meals on the table every day and baked cakes and pies and basically all kinds of "home made" foods; fast foods were not really that popular back then. When I came along, Mother had to go back to school and get her GED and then go on to nursing school. It was only the two of us and by the late 60's, fast food was becoming more popular. Oh, Mother still cooked when she had time and on special occasions, but she never really had the time to teach me to cook. I did watch her from time to time; using the mixer, baking for the holidays. This is what gave me the idea that I could bake a cake. Now, keep in mind, I was no young child when I baked this cake...maybe even junior high age. I got all of my ingredients out that the recipe called for and began reading the recipe and really felt confident that I could bake this cake while my mother was away at work. Well, let me first say that I think recipe books should be required to have a little dictionary in the back where it explains the terminology used therein. Because, how is one to know what certain words in that recipe really mean? OK...I'll agree that a little dictionary probably wouldn't have helped me with the problem I encountered. Having watched my mother occassionally use the mixer, I had seen her add eggs and sugar together and they would fluff up and make this great meringue. My recipe said to add the egg whites and sugar together in a mixer and beat them until they fluffed up. So, that is exactly what I did. I cracked those eggs in a bowl and threw the egg whites in the mixing bowl with some sugar...oh, wait a minute...did I mention that the only part of the egg that I could see that was white was the SHELL?? THAT'S what I put in the mixing bowl with the sugar! And then I began to mix that crunchy mixture with the beaters. Well, to my surprise, this mixture just did NOT want to fluff up. I couldn't understand that because I could have sworn my mother had done this very same thing. Oh well, not to worry, I just went ahead and poured it into the rest of my cake batter and BAKED IT that way. When Mother came home, she was so surprised to see that I had baked a cake and eager to taste a piece of it, she dug right in. Crunch, crunch, crunch..."Barbara, what is this crunchy stuff in your cake"? " Well, of course, that is the egg whites...however, I don't understand why they didn't fluff up like yours do". Mother then asked, "What, exactly did you put in this cake"? I replied, "The egg whites. You know, the shells...they ARE the only part of the egg that is white". I cannot explain the look on my mother's face when I revealed the secret ingredient of my "crunchy cake"! My cooking skills have improved some over the years, but I am still no expert in the kitchen...thus, "cooking classes". And I still think there should be some sort of little dictionary in the back of cookbooks!

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