Scurlock: My husband will eat anything baked with love

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Nicole Scurlock

There is something incredibly satisfying about slicing into a beautifully decorated, richly aromatic cake to find that the layers are even, the filling is generous, and the cake-to-frosting ratio is perfect — fifty-fifty, if you ask me. Cakes are serious business. Cakes require practice, planning, patience, precision and passion. This is why I make cupcakes. Cupcakes are much more manageable. And forgiving. You don’t have to worry about even layers and crumb coats or even consistency, really. Everybody loves a personal cake, and a cupcake fits the bill. They come together easily, bake quickly, and afford the opportunity to get creative. I love a cupcake canvas. My favorite part of the process is filling my piping bag with buttercream and topping each cake with a fanciful design. Not to mention the joy of sharing the fruits of my labor with family and friends. Several bakes ago, however, I felt up for a challenge.

I resolved to make my husband’s favorite cake for his birthday: a Boston Cream Pie. I selected a recipe online, I shopped for all of the ingredients, and I spent the better part of a day mixing the batter, filling the layers, and topping my “made from scratch” cake with a dark chocolate ganache. (I am fairly sure that the filling was instant vanilla pudding, but scratch/homemade, you get the idea.) I worked hard on it. The cake was my contribution to the family birthday dinner at my parent’s house that evening. My mother, blessedly, still did all of the actual cooking. I don’t remember what was on the menu that day because what stands out to me now was that I was trusted with making the dessert.

The cake was a showpiece. We all gathered around the kitchen after dinner to light the candles and to sing “Happy Birthday” to my husband. I was all too happy to serve up slices and pass them around the room. However, upon taking the first bite, it was clear that something was wrong. The cake didn’t have the right texture, the right mouthfeel, and when I began to chew there was a distinct, and unexpected… crunch. Chew, chew, chew. Crunch, crunch, crunch. The granulated sugar I used for the chocolate ganache hadn’t melted. We were eating chocolate sand. I watched as forks were lowered and exchanged glances began to spread. I felt my cheeks grow warm.

All at once, I was hearing:

“How did you make the icing?”

“Was this from a recipe?”

“You should have used powdered sugar.”

“Well, it still… tastes good?”

Comments were stinging my ego from every angle, and I didn’t know how to respond.

Just then, my husband leaned back in his chair, forked in a generous bite, and added with his mouth full, “I like a little crunch in my cake.” A couple of crumbs fell onto the front of his shirt as he smiled. The tension in the air dissipated, and we all shared a laugh. He finished his whole slice, as did I and a few others. Later that evening, my husband wrapped me in a big hug and assured me he would eat anything baked with love, and I vowed to make him the best Boston Cream cupcakes from then on.

Nicole Scurlock lives in Greenfield with her husband and housecat. Their 20-year-old daughter attends Purdue University. Nicole enjoys reading and baking in her spare time.