Condos are great for travelers who don’t mind doing a little cooking on the road. You can save money by whipping up spaghetti, or just by making sandwiches. But when you try to take your culinary exploits to the next level, well…that’s when mischief happens.
David and I traveled to Orlando last week for an impromptu Labor Day vacation to catch up with some good old friends. First, Kelly and Beard drove over from Tampa, soon to be followed by my friend Allison, whose Big 30th Birthday was looming on the horizon. I wanted to prepare her birthday tradition—a strawberry cake. David was like, “why don’t we just buy her a cake?” To which I predictably responded, “Well where’s the fun in that?”
First problem: No cake pans. I saw that one coming. With a goal to keep costs down, I figured I could make cheap aluminum cake pans work.
Second problem: No cake plate. No platter. No flat surface that wasn’t formica or glass dining room table. So I’d have to get something at the store. Boo!
Third problem: No mixer. No blender. No nothing. So I would also need a whisk. I love whisks, so that was OK.
Fourth problem: No recipe. Now I’m brave, but not foolish. Okay, maybe a little foolish. But knowing me, do you think I was going to let a few little issues like having no equipment and no clue what I was doing stop me? Oh, hell no!
So I hijacked Kelly’s I-phone, snagged a recipe as a guide, and away to Publix we went. While they shopped for staples, I went in search of cake ingredients. I found a $1.29 “bamboo” appetizer tray that I thought would work OK for a cake plate, perched my ingredients precariously on top, à la Rachel Ray, and away we went.
It Took A Village
Back at the Kondo, it was a little nuts. First of all, beating a cake mix together by hand is a WORKOUT. Even with a nice new whisk, I got winded after a minute. So I enlisted a few friends to help out…
Then I hit another problem: the icing was looking more like sun-dried tomato dip than strawberry goodness. David chimed in with a winning suggestion: pulverize fresh strawberries and fold them in to add bright red color. Good tip, Taquito Boy! It worked like a charm!
I knew the ghetto pans were going to be trouble, so I called Matthew (my partner in crime) for tips. In addition to reiterating my plans to butter and Baker’s Joy the suckers to high hell, he had another suggestion. “Run your knife around the edges before you turn it out.” Another good tip!
Allison seemed to love her cake. She was surprised that I remembered it was her birthday favorite. Truth be told, I was surprised, too…I vaguely kinda thought I remembered her mentioning it before, but was only about 37% sure about it. I gambled, and we both won. Hooray! Was it beautiful? Not so much! Was it fun? Yes. Was it Mischief? Absolutely! 😉
Alison’s Strawberry Kondo Kake
1 box yellow cake mix
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 stick butter, softened
1 jar strawberry preserves
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 box powdered sugar
½ jar strawberry preserves
2 pints fresh strawberries
Stir the first four ingredients together in a large bowl with a whisk. Beat by hand for four to five minutes. It REALLY helps to have a partner. Or three. Meanwhile, empty one jar of preserves into a bowl and microwave for 30 to 40 seconds to loosen it up a bit. Stir the preserves into the whipped batter, divide into two pans that you’ve liberally buttered and sprayed with Baker’s Joy. Bathe them in it. Seriously. Bake as directed on the box, but watch out…Kondo Ovens are the devil…they’re very unpredictable.
While they cook, tackle the icing. Make sure your cream cheese is VERY soft, otherwise, it will be lumpy when you add the sugar. And you’ll need an arm replacement. Repeat the microwave step with the other jar of preserves, whisk those into the cream cheese. Add half the sugar, taste, and continue adding until you are satisfied with the sweetness level. If it’s looking more Pompeii Princess Gray than Pretty in Pink, pulverize a quarter of the reserved strawberries and add then in (see picture for guidance).
Run a knife around the edge of both cake pans. Place the cake plate upside down on top of one cake, flip both over, and gently remove aluminum pan, tapping it as you lift. Once the cakes are totally cooled, spread icing on the top of the first cake, then top it with the other cake (that you’ve similarly turned out) and cover the whole shebang with icing. Top with the reserved strawberries and eat immediately. You can pretty much bet your Kondo does not have a Kake Dome, and take my word for it…this sucker looks nasty after a day in the fridge.