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franklin county times

Had I known you were coming (in so late), I would have baked you a cake

By By Robert St. John / food columnist
June 16, 2004
My newlywed wife wanted to bake a cake. She knew that yellow cake with chocolate icing was my favorite. Her initial attempt is legendary.
First I must explain that even though I am a highly trained food service professional, she doesn't want me in the kitchen while she is cooking. I try to offer helpful hints. She shuns them. Her inaugural cake project was doomed from the start.
Mistake No. 1: She used cake pans that were too small. The cake rose unevenly forming a rounded top. Both layers looked like miniature versions of the Superdome. If I were in the kitchen I would have told her to cut the cake horizontally to flatten the top out so it could be stacked and iced. But I was hiding in the den.
Mistake No. 2: She didn't let the cake cool. Once again, had I been in the kitchen, I would have explained the theory of cooling a cake on a rack. Next, she placed the least-rounded cake on the bottom, and the most severely domed cake on top.
Mistake No. 3: She iced the cake immediately, saving most of the icing for the top of the cake. She then placed the hot, iced cake under the glass cake display.
Shocking creation
She called me into the kitchen to see her creation (of course, it was hard to see through the steam inside of the glass) and things started getting weird.
As we stood in our kitchen looking at my wife's first baking project, it began to move. I kid you not. "It's alive!" I yelled.
We watched, puzzled, as a crack began forming down the center of the cake, running from one side to the other. The weight of the icing pulled the hot cake from its center and split it down the middle.
The hot icing oozed into the crack and re-iced the cake instantly. We stood in awe, looking at her cake, which had instantly transformed into two, rounded chocolate humps with a crack in the center.
I left the cake under the glass dome for viewing by visiting friends. It stayed under the glass dome for so long that it began to grow some type of freaky green fuzz.
Eventually it turned into a science project and became completely covered with green mold. The icing hardened and the cake fossilized.
Visiting friend
Enter Glen Hogan.
Our friend Glen was in town for a business meeting and bunking in the guest room. He was single and decided to visit old friends at a local neighborhood watering hole. We were newlyweds, so we stayed home and didn't eat cake.
Sometime after 2 a.m. we heard the door alarm signaling Glen's entrance. When we awoke later that morning Glen was gone.
We walked into the kitchen and it was obvious what had occurred just hours before. Glen had entered the house after a very socially active night skipping dinner, opting for a liquid diet with a strong craving.
Unfortunately it was a craving for cake. Not wanting to turn the lights on and disturb the owners of the house, he decided to pour a glass of milk, and eat a piece of cake in the dark.
Late-night snack
Being that it was dark, Glen didn't know that the cake on the glass pedestal was the aforementioned month-old, green, fuzzy cake.
A plate with a large slice of the cake sat on the counter next to the sink. A fork was on the floor, the glass of milk was half empty. The bite of the cake had been spit out into the sink along with the milk.
My wife has cooked many cakes over the last 11 years, all of which have been eaten in a matter of days and none of which have grown hair or moved.
Glen married, settled down, and became a father. He has been able to keep off the pounds that most married men add on. He has my wife to thank for that. In one fateful night, she cured his midnight-snack cravings forever.
Robert St. John is an author, chef, restaurateur and world-class eater. He is the owner/executive chef of the Purple Parrot Caf, Crescent City Grill and Mahogany Bar in Hattiesburg and Meridian. He can be reached at www.nsrg.com.

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