Despite the small kitchen, uneven oven, lack of measuring cups and scale, and 2 pans of completely different sizes, I went against my better judgement and made it anyway. I mean, no birthday is complete without a good birthday cake and Cadiz isn’t exactly famous for its baked goods. Birthdays here are funny… Ale’s mom just wished him a feliz cumpleaños now, although we’ve been up for an hour already. She must have forgotten since we actually celebrated yesterday, which was more convenient for the rest of the family. Birthdays at Ale’s house aren’t really about the “birthday person”. No one asked him what he wanted to eat, there were no cards or gifts, and the general reaction to my baking was, why? Isn’t it easier to buy something from La Mercadona?
I don’t know if this birthday attitude is typical in other Spanish families, but here it makes me a little sad. I love how my family always makes my birthday a special day; I choose what to do, where to go, what to eat and there are always a few gifts to open. I feel special on my birthday and I want my husband to feel the same. That’s why I make him his cake. Actually, I’m lying. The more I think about it,, I’m pretty sure I make him his cake to make myself feel better. It makes me feel more “at home” seeing a homemade cake on the table. Ale, honestly, doesn’t care. He’s so laid back and good natured that, although he loved the cake I made him, he’d have been just as happy with something store bought.
So, out of pure selfishness, disguised as wanting to please my husband, I set out to bake a cake in my mother-in-law’s kitchen. (Does this qualify as self-inflicted torture?) The cake, which is amazing btw, is something I found here. It’s easy to make and really moist and delicious. Here’s how to bake it (more or less):
1. Have in-laws take you to various supermarkets looking for exotic ingredients like powdered sugar and unsweetened cocoa powder.
2. Nod politely when they insist that vanilla extract is easy to find in any big supermarket (absolutely not true).
3. Set up shop in the kitchen and start mixing ingredients.
4. Don’t worry if the things you thoughtfully set out suddenly disappear; they thought you were done with them.
5. Stretch your arm before starting– it’s your only option for beating eggs and creaming sugar.
6. Turn on the oven but be careful– people who never bake don’t know their oven the same way as those who do.
7. Check the cake often due to the strange oven situation.
8. Take out and let cool on anything available (such as the barbeque or toaster).
9. When completely cool, decorate. Don’t argue when when people insist that frosting is the same as nata (whipped cream) or pasta de azucar (fondant).
10. Enjoy the fruits of your labor– with something alcoholic, if possible.
The final result may not be pretty, but it tastes great (trust me)! And Ale’s niece and nephew loved decorating their first cake.
As I previously mentioned, the recipe can be found on Erin’s Food Files. The only thing I changed was adding finely crushed oreos to the frosting.
Has anyone else braved baking a cake in Spain? How about baking or cooking in your MIL’s kitchen? I really shouldn’t complain because I know it could be MUCH worse! Leave a comment if you have a funny story!