Sunday, May 24, 2009

Burning questions

Can a cake catch on fire and if so, does it emit deadly gases?

After this weekend’s Pistachio Cake mishap, I consider it important to know the answers to these questions. They could determine whether I almost killed my kid, I’m exhibiting Alzheimer’s symptoms and/or suffering from Baby Boomer Attention Deficit Disorder.

Husband No. 1 and I were driving back from a Saturday morning trip to the Library when my cell phone rang. No. 1 son, home for the holiday weekend, had walked into the house from an errand and was greeted by the oven timer buzzing at full blast (though not enough to awaken No. 2 son upstairs).

“Oh my God,” I gulped. “I forgot I’d put the Pistachio Cake in the oven. Is it on fire?”

Husband No. 1’s eyes were the size of saucers. He had that “do I need to call 911” expression (due no doubt to my history of “visits” from fire apparatus with sirens blaring).

After being assured no flames were coming from the oven and there was no need for a fourth visit from firefighters, I asked how the cake looked. Long pause. “Well-done,” No. 1 son finally replied.

I disconnected the call in a panic. Not about the cake, mind you, but that I’d spent time making it, put it in the oven and then, well, completely forgot about it. Could I blame my excitement over the news that the reportedly hilarious book “The Spellman Files” (Think Part Nancy Drew, part Dirty Harry) by Lisa Lutz was available for borrowing from the Library? Probably not.

“Ohmigod, I wonder if I should be tested for Alzheimer’s or ADD,” I moaned. “What if I’d burned down the house and killed our son?”

“I don’t think cakes can catch on fire,” Husband No. 1 replied.

“But what about deadly gases? I could have killed him.”

“I’ve never heard of anyone dying from cake fumes or pistachio gases,” he said, his eyes now back to normal size. “But maybe now you’ll stop complaining about me forgetting things.”

Unlikely. However, I am happy to report the cake was only slightly darker than usual and tasted as wonderful as always. I love this cake. It's easy to make and it can be used as a breakfast item or a dessert. It's the only Bundt cake I've ever made that doesn't stick to the pan. It freezes so well no one can tell you made it a week earlier. And now I know it doesn’t catch on fire easily. This could be important in the future.

PS: Before I could relate this tale to my friend, she announced she was very concerned about her own memory because just the other day she’d left the hot soapy water running to fill her laundry room sink, got distracted by a question and 30 minutes later discovered a river running through her house, into the basement and seeping into her carpeted closet. I thanked her very much for sharing her story.

Do you suppose getting distracted and forgetting so easily is contagious?

In the meantime, here's the recipe for the apparently indestructible Pistachio Cake:

1 pkg. butter cake mix (if unavailable, use yellow cake mix)

1 box instant pistachio pudding mix
1/2 c. oil
4 eggs
1/2 tsp. almond flavoring
½ tsp butter flavoring
1 cup sour cream (fat-free is OK)
(a few drops of green food coloring if darker color desired)

For topping:
½ c chopped nuts (sliced almonds, walnuts, whatever)
3 TB sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour (or spray) 10-inch Bundt pan. Blend all cake ingredients well. Mix 1 minute on low speed, scrape side, another 2 minutes on high. Make topping separately.
To assemble: Put half the topping in bottom of pan, then half the cake ingredients, rest of topping and rest of cake.
Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes (toothpick test), cool on rack 10-15 minutes, check sides. If ready, flip out, or wait another 10 minutes.


chris remick said...

Pat! What were you thinking?? One hour at the Library?

Pat said...

On the other hand, I did go with Husband No. 1, whose very presence (and virtual foot-tapping) seems to speed most errands. Another reason to leave him home when I go shopping for anything other than food...