Yesterday was Mom's birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!!! ^.^ )
*ahem* It was also grocery day: the day of the week that my mother goes out for a good couple of hours to have lunch with Dad and buy the week's forage. The perfect opportunity to make her a surprise birthday cake, eh? ;)
Before we get any further with this I will state right here that despite my efforts, the only things that I have actually been requested to make by my family are fruit smoothies and my oatmeal-raisin-chocolate chip cookies. Yeah; not such a hot mama in the kitchen. :P
But I was determined to bake Mom something special in honor of the day. (I never dreamed Dad would have the same idea. . .)
To give myself the most possible amount of time, I began my baking venture as soon as she walked out the door, which was around 11, or so (she got a lot of, "So, when are you leaving?" "Shouldn't you go soon if you're going to have lunch with Dad?" "You might want to give yourself quite a bit of time to get there. . .why? oh, just because. . ." lol!)
I had perused all of the dessert cookbooks on her shelf for easy recipes for cake icing; I was prepared to not go beyond my limits and just use one of those Betty Crocker cake mix boxes. But for some reason the one I wanted to use didn't have a recipe for icing on the side --- you'd think that they would make things easier than they are by doing that for people, but they don't.
Anyway, upon my futile search for chocolate cake icing, I found a recipe for chocolate fudge pudding-cake. Now, I've made one of these in the past at Mother's request --- but in the crock pot. It was a slow-cooker recipe then. And I certainly wasn't going to do that now. But the one I found in her many pages of random recipes printed off of the Internet was for a pudding-cake that was baked in the oven. And it was easy. And it was from a source I've used for a tasty brownie recipe before. And Mom apparently really likes pudding-cake. Bingo.
Mix up all of the ingredients, heat up the oven, and [nervously] pop it in (I'm always nervous when I have to do anything in the kitchen because, as I have previously stated, I am no Julia Child.)
As a plus to the garden hedgehog statue that I got for Mom to sit in her herb garden this year, I decide that I will also help her out by keeping up the housework while she is away. And I mean, really keeping up the housework.
A few loads of laundry later, I open the oven to find. . . . . a messy, but decent chocolate pudding-cake. Okay, so it didn't turn out horrible as I had secretly expected. Heck, it might even be called pretty rich. I set the oven on "warm and hold" to keep it warm until Mom gets back home and then we can all marvel at how awesome my pudding-cakes are. The day will end lovely and I will feel like I actually did something special for once on Mom's birthday, something that she can appreciate. I sing my way through the dishes and back into the laundry room (not to mention being exceedingly patient with the littles as I put them down for a [much needed] nap). Nothing can go wrong.
And then Dad gets home. I'm out feeding the horse as it's pouring rain, telling my boy all about the wonderful surprise I have waiting for Mom. I can't wait!
I hear Dad's truck pulling up the drive, he stops, rolls down the window and calls out, "Hiya! You almost done? Can you come up and help me? I got some stuff to celebrate Mom's birthday." He continues up the drive as my heart starts to pound and eventually sinks as I think about how inevitable it is for him to buy a cake. I take plenty of time making my way back to the house and his truck, kicking myself for not thinking that of course Dad would buy Mom a cake on her birthday, trying to formulate a plan in my head of what I'm going to tell Dad. I can't possibly tell him that he's just set a full-blown thunderstorm on my lovely little parade. *sigh*
"What did you get?" I call above the beat of the rain as I near his open truck door. "Oh, just some flowers and a big, beautiful, chocolaty cake!" He says this last part with the look on his face that he gets when he thinks he's doing something very special for us and he knows that we're going to love it. Normally, he's right; but now my mind races with what to say.
He hands me the flowers and requests that I find a vase for them and arrange them. "Oh, Shelby's much better at that than I am," I quickly say, coming up with a plan. Shelby will take care of the flowers and I will hide the cake that is still warming in the oven. . .somehow.
We make it into the kitchen and I am amazed that he doesn't even seem to notice the oven that is on. Usually he would immediately ask me why in the world the oven is on, as if I had purposely turned it on with the motive of burning down the house. But he says nothing, as he turns around and goes back out the door! Now's my chance. I wait a second to make sure he's not coming back in right away, and then I frantically grab some potholders, switch off the oven, and rip my cake out of the oven. But --- what to do with it?? How do I get a hot cake out of sight?? Shelby comes in as I'm unconsciously opening a drawer. "I'll grab some hot pads to sit under it so that he has no reason to get mad at us if it's discovered," she says sensibly. Yes, hot pads, why didn't I think of that? My younger sister helps me hide the cake just as Dad walks back into the house.
I nonchalantly sway back into the laundry room to finish folding a load from the dryer as Dad and Shelby continue with the preparations for the dinner table. I think I'm covered with the cake incident. . . .until I remember: There are six other people in this house who have been looking forward all day to eating my chocolate pudding-cake. They are surely bound to say something when Dad presents his flashy, chocolaty tower to them. But how to let them know of the situation discreetly? Then I've got it.
I call each child back to put away his/her clothes, whispering to each a quick explanation of why we will not be eating my cake. Everyone agrees not to say anything to Dad. We don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or cause a scene. And now that I think about it: if word got out to Dad about my cake, certainly pulling it out of a drawer in his presence is going to be rather embarrassing. Oh dear.
Now I'm thinking of how I can get the cake out of the drawer and into somewhere else that would not be so embarrassing to pull it out of should the need arise. (A drawer, really? Who's idea was that??)
It turns out, the best idea comes from Mom, herself. I slink upstairs with my own clothes and the telephone hidden beneath them. No, it's not safe to use the land line; what if Dad were to need the phone while I was on it and noticed that it was being used? Best use my cell.
So I call Mom and explain the whole thing. It sounds pretty silly when I actually try to explain it to someone else. Funny how it seems like such a catastrophe at the time.
She laughingly tells me to put it in the back of the refrigerator. Why didn't I think of that?
We end up eating Dad's cake that night, and the pudding-cake today after lunch while he's at work. I still don't think he knows. :P
Next time, I think I'll check with him before I surprise everyone with a cake.