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You have failed me for the last time, Wilton.

I’ve recently been crowned the Baking Queen around here. By which I mean, I discovered I was some kind of alchemist savant who can throw flour, sugar and spices together in various combinations that my trusty ancestral weapon, Bright Oven, then transmutes into SHEER AWESOME DELICIOUSNESS.

So I got myself a tiara, robed myself in my The Spice Must Flow apron, and made my husband and our two cats attend the coronation. I may have gripped a rolling pin and cradled a sphere of dough while striking a noble pose.

Look, that’s just how I roll.

…NO, I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE. Anyway, I may have sung something like “OPEN THE OVEN GATES!” before Andy and the cats wandered off in disinterest. Or bemusement. Hard to tell, sometimes. (And, yes, I did recently watch Frozen for the first time. And then 4 more times. Just to be sure I liked it.) (I do.)

Thanks to my newly-appointed baking royalty status, I looked my husband’s oncoming birthday in the eye and said “HA HA! I’m going to bake the shit out of a Vader cake for you!”

Yeah, I said Vader. As in Darth Vader.

Darth Vader cake pan by Wilton

Wilton knows the power of the Dark Side.

My husband loves vanilla cake and white chocolate. I agonized over how to give him this in a Darth Vader cake without making the icing bitter from a truly disgusting amount of black food dye. I finally threw my hands up in despair and let Jamelle (best friend and zombie-hunting consultant) weave me a tale of Vader having Hoth-appropriate camouflage, although I secretly knew in my heart that the Dark Lord would never condescend to hide his presence with a snowy mantle. If he caught me at this, I’d for sure be Force Choked.

Andy’s birthday came. I merrily spent an hour in the kitchen, whipping up my prized vanilla cupcake recipe and then just dumping all the batter into a Darth Vader cake pan rather than individual cups. I stuck it in the oven, and began happily sketching a “WE GOT DEATH STAR” illustration for his birthday whiteboard.

WE GOT DEATH STAR scene from Star Wars rap

“And you know that we got it.”

Look. I’ve been baking a lot recently. Like, A LOT. Clearly, since I’ve crowned myself been crowned the Baking Queen. Also, I followed the directions on the Wilton pan. I went with their advised temperature, and began checking my cake for delicious doneness at their recommended time. 25 minutes down, it’s not done. 30 minutes down, not done. 35, 40, and wow, the top of this cake is getting pretty brown but the middle is still mush WHAT THE HELL, WHY HAS THE FORCE MY ALCHEMY FAILED ME NOW.

At some point, the top was brown enough and my toothpick came out clean, so I took it out. I let it cool (precisely, again, as recommended BY WILTON), then loosened the sides and prepared to flip it onto a cooling rack, total bad-ass baker balling.

This is when the shit hit the fan.

Or, rather, when THE PIPING HOT GOO HIT MY FINGERS.

Yeah, Vader’s face cracked when I tipped out the cake. Hot batter poured through my fingers, and my reaction was both graceful and brilliant: I dropped the pan. Too bad the “OH SHIT” signal of what happened didn’t make it through the rest of my body fast enough, as I then instinctively stuck my knee out to catch the tumbling pan. So: knee burned, and I yelled a mighty yawp, and danced away awkwardly. Hot batter splattered my foot as a final insult anyway.

A Darth Vader cake lay broken on the floor

“Force-choking, sobbing,
Vader’s head on the floor…”

I told you the Dark Lord wouldn’t let me get away with this white chocolate crap.

I cackled maliciously when my husband stuck his head around the corner to ask “what was that?” and find his birthday cake exploded on the floor. Or at least that’s what he’s telling everyone, and I’m only too happy to back that up. Malicious. Cackling. I certainly was NOT distraught enough due to burned flesh and cake-loss that he had to perform first aid and then clean his own birthday cake up off the kitchen floor. Nope. I laughed at his pain, and he collapsed to his knees and beseeched the heavens why in abject alliterative agony.

Don’t worry, I bought him a tiramisu dessert the size of his head to make up for my gross failure.

What the hell did I do wrong? Anyone out there with experience with Wilton pans, please, weigh in here. I’ve trusted Wilton for years, so I was totally shocked to end my first shaped-pan baking experience with no cake and a warped pan:

A warped Darth Vader pan by Wilton

Nothing but a hot mess and a warped pan.

P.S. I’m not giving the crown back. I’m still the reigning Baking Queen at Casa Quixote. I’ll fight anyone what says different. (No, I won’t.)

(Yes, I will.) (Not really.)

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • halfmoon-mollie April 10, 2014, 11:03 AM

    Have your oven checked, my dear. The similar (minus the burns!) experience I had were the result of an ovens that had faulty thermostats.

  • beeker April 10, 2014, 2:05 PM

    Another thing to check – sometimes batters that are perfect for cupcakes aren’t good for cakes and vice versa (my mom has favored chocolate cake and cupcake recipes and I was instructed to never use one for the other).

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