Sunday, March 23, 2014

Christmas Cakery: Doubling Down on Disaster (And What I Taught Myself) - Part 3

Well, the telling is almost over but for the screaming (and yes, there is actual screaming involved with finishing this story).

The advantage of missing deadlines for presents, at least for me, anyway, is that it gives me a chance to fine-tune the gift (or to actually make or acquire said gift). The pressure's off and I can at last figure out almost everything that went wrong with the initial attempts. So it went with the Christmas presents once the actual day had passed. I now had time to apply the lessons learned and set things right.

After acquiring the diminutive springform pans, I made new cake batter and tried again. There really is nothing like having the right tool for the job and these pans were awesome at doing their job! When I pulled the cakes out of the oven, my heart soared because they were nearly perfect. By this time, I'd gotten so much experience cutting layers that it didn't take me long to slice, fill and ice the little cakes.

Sliced and chocolate filled!
The mini bundt cakes and the butterflies were a little more problematic but I still managed to improve my process with them. I was more diligent about greasing up the pan and the molds this time and had much less trouble extricating them after things cooled down. I really am going to have to invest in some of this stuff soon.

Boy, do I need this!
It seems I'm truly going to need it.

Could have been worse. In fact, it was!

They looked a little odd for sure but when I got them covered in chocolate...

The chocolate coating helps it go down easier.
...tasty was all I could see! Eventually I got everything baked, filled, frosted, coated and ready to box up.

Ready to fly in formation to their destinations!
I shipped three different boxes to three three different cities (although two of them are very close) and waited. And waited. And waited. And waited some more. Herein lies the part of my tale that elicited the screaming: only one box showed any kind of movement in the postal tracking – the one to my brother's family in California. Now, I Priority mailed these a couple of days after Christmas, knowing that it might be a little longer than the usual two-to-three days but I was relatively certain that things would arrive in good shape. But the boxes to Texas didn't show movement for over a week! And no one at the Post Office could help me find them.

A Side Note About My Relationship With The U.S. Postal Service: I genuinely like the post office. It's usually my preferred method of shipping anything anywhere. I guess I'm a lot old fashioned because I would rather deal with a postal clerk than the Automatic Postage Machine Thingy. Not that I have trouble using the machine, mind you. The real trouble that the locations I normally use are so poorly run and staffed that it's nearly impossible to get in and out without a long line and a frustrating wait. So I end up buying my shipping labels online and just dropping the packages off, or using the Automatic Postage Machine Thingy. I'm all for progress but I do wish they'd run their locations better because I do enjoy that human touch. 

Side Note About My Relationship With The U.S. Postal Service Ends

The California contingent, including my father (who was visiting my brother Rob and his family) received their box in short order and informed me that all the contents were intact and delicious. The boxes to Texas didn't arrive for another week! I ask you to imagine the screaming that went on over the last three paragraphs as lasting almost a week and a half. The situation was, how shall I put it, annoying! Even so, the goods finally arrived in Texas in perfect tasty condition.

I'm beginning to think I'm learning a thing or two about shipping baked goods. Case in point: we have a friend in Hawaii to whom we've owed a reciprocal Christmas gift for a year-plus. I baked her a cake and some ginger snaps and added them to the box Michele and I finally put together for her. I shipped the package, also Priority, and everything arrived without so much as a crumb being shook loose. And she described savoring and saving the cake and cookies in a way that made my baker's heart nearly burst with pride.

One last cake tidbit. Another friend of ours, this time here in NYC, presented me with a large rubber stamp which I just had to use on a congratulatory gift for him (on getting a new job):

A cake that knows it's place at the table!
I'm not saying that buying me baking/cooking accessories is a way to get a dessert from me but it does stack the odds....

Currently listening to: Seal - Get It Together

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