Dorothy at age twelve

"What Happened To The Cake?"

By Dorothy Ainsworth

When I was 12, Mom let me take over a lot of the cooking for our large family because I loved to cook and I was good at it. I was taking Home Ec. at school and would come home and try out what I learned in class. My dad was supporting six hungry kids on an auto mechanic's wages, so needless to say the food budget was tight. Mom cooked a pot of beans every day as our main diet, and I made little side dishes to practice what I learned in school.

One Saturday afternoon I decided I would surprise the family by making a yellow cake from scratch as we had made in Home Ec. the day before. Nobody was in the kitchen, but the beans were simmering in a big kettle, so I stirred them once in awhile to help mom out---she was forever getting side-tracked and burning the beans! I then turned the oven on to 350 degrees to bake the cake.

Like a little busybody I enthusiastically measured out all the ingredients for the cake and added them in the right order, and then beat the batter with 200 strokes, and poured the beautiful creamy mix into two 8" layer cake pans that I had greased and lightly floured beforehand--just as the teacher had taught us--and slid both pans carefully into the oven. Then I licked the bowl!

About an hour later I took the perfect little golden brown cakes out of the oven and put them on a cooling rack on top of the stove. Then I took the lid off the beans and gave them another stir. I saw they were about to stick, so I added a quart of hot water, turned the heat up a little, and put the lid back on.

Then I got busy making the frosting for the cake. We had butter and some powdered sugar and a lemon, so I decided on lemon frosting...yum! Everything would be yellow, and very tasty. We seldom had desserts so this was going to be a rare treat for the whole family, and I could hear the happy sounds of slobbering and smacking and praising in advance.

When I turned around from the table to the stove to get the cakes to frost, there was only ONE cake on the rack. I was mortified. What happened to the other cake? It had simply disappeared. All I could think of was that the dog had snuck in and grabbed it. He looked guilty from my tone of voice, but I could see no cake crumbs around his muzzle. I looked everywhere and asked my siblings, who were busy with their own things in every room in the house, if they had seen a cake. Nobody knew what in the heck I was talking about.

By now the beans were boiling away and steam was hissing out all around the lid. I turned the burner back down, took the lid off to give them a stir, and--THERE IT WAS: MY CAKE, bubbling on top of the beans. It had stuck to the inside of the lid when I absent-mindedly set it down and I hadn't noticed when I lifted it up to put it back on the kettle. My only excuse: I was twelve.

PS: We all enjoyed DOUBLE-THICK tart lemon frosting on just one layer of a cake, and the beans were a little sweet this time.