We have many traditions in our family including Nana’s strawberry cake recipe. Since my birthday always happened during our Fourth of July trip to the lake, Momma (or Nana) baked a fresh strawberry cake at home to carry with us. (No one wanted to do real cooking at the lake.) Even after driving through the Ozarks, waiting in line at the ferry, and stopping in town for groceries, the cake was dreamy and luscious. We gorged on it all week.
This weekend, (daughter) Kelsey and I messed with tradition. For (son) Tate’s twenty-first birthday, we decided to tweak the recipe. Since we both love to cook, we thought it would be fun to try something new. We researched on-line recipes. Only a 4.5 star recipe would do.
Clearly, we weren’t right in our heads. Why mess with perfection? (Our excuses—I’d been cooped up too long in the house writing, and she’d just finished law school finals.)
The recipe we selected looked wonderful. It contained strawberry preserves and fresh strawberries and cake flour and vanilla bean paste. Plus there was buttermilk. Buttermilk means serious baking, y’all.
And oh my goodness, the batter. We licked the spatula and most of the bowl. Best batter ever. Light and fluffy.
We were feeling smug about our new and improved strawberry cake right up to the moment we tasted the finished product.
What a complete waste of calories. The cake was dense and flavorless, more like a bad grocery store bundt cake than fresh homemade cake-cake. The frosting was all wrong and not sweet enough.
It wasn’t Nana’s cake.
Not even close.
If Nana was watching (and of course she was), I’m sure she was thoroughly entertained by the whole birthday cake tasting debacle. The birthday boy pretended to like it. The rest of us gagged a few bites down. Kelsey had to cleanse her palate with a plain strawberry. (It did leave a strange aftertaste.) My sister’s boyfriend said it tasted like Nestle’s Quik strawberry drink from back in the day.
Even with a less than stellar cake, the day was a success because it was spent with family. We’ll be laughing about our cake experiment for a while…
Luckily we still have Nana’s 5-star recipe. And with my birthday only fifty-two days away, I know we’ll get the real thing soon enough at the lake. Momma will see to it.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
P.S. Today as I went back to review the recipe we used (trying to decide whether or not to call it out on my blog), I realized we chose a 2-star recipe! Not sure HOW that happened after reading so many 4 and 5 star recipes. Like I said, we weren’t in our right minds. This whole thing would have been avoided had we read the reviews. So be sure to never make the Country Living Fresh Strawberry Cake. It’s anything but.
“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child
Carry on Wayward Son