Once upon a time my sister and I took a cake decorating class at the local community “college.” Our teacher felt that only scratch-made cake qualified as actual cake and we were given a copy of her yellow cake recipe, which was supposedly the one she uses for the cakes that she sells. It sucked. And lest you think it was amateur recipe mismanagement or a sabotaged recipe that was responsible—we have since had her version of it and it was the same as the horrors we constructed. So we put that little scratch-cake baby to bed and never attempted it since.
Until this past Wednesday. I had watched an episode of Everyday Baking on PBS and thought, “Gee, look how easy it is to make a yellow cake from scratch.” And since Martha Stewart herself condoned the recipe it could not possibly be bad, right? I followed the recipe exactly to make a coconut cake with 7-minute frosting and lemon curd filling.
(Q: When does 7 minutes take 3 hours? A: When you are making 7-minute frosting.)
At least it looked normal.
When it was done I tried a piece of plain cake and thought it was quite dry and kind of plain but I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt because I was humbly unsure of my own plebian opinion in deference to the refined taste and sophisticated palate of my Supreme Homemaking Idol.
Alex had slept all day and was oblivious to my cake-making plans, the scratch recipe, MS’s involvement, etc., when I gave him a piece of plain cake and waited anxiously for his analysis. Which was this (in all seriousness):
“Is it cornbread?”
Shame Martha Stewart. For shame. I was not this disappointed in you when you were sprung from the big house and incited a crocheted poncho craze.
But I think I know where MS got the recipe and this leads to the “bright side of the story.”
When I was a kid growing up with my grandparents we Trick or Treated around our neighborhood block. Most people gave out fun-size candy bars/suckers/gum/etc., one gave out full-size candy bars, and one house alone we were not allowed to go to. Reason being when my grandparents’ kids were little the lady at that house gave out what was referred to as “frosted cornbread.”
But now I know the sad truth, she was giving out scratch-made yellow cake.
No Frosted Cornbread, Halloween 1981
And so as Martha Stewart dashed all hope of ending my box-cake addiction, she also solved The Mystery of the Frosted Cornbread Lady of Dorsey Street.