The Ryan Table

The Unfortunate Tale of the Extreme Chocolate Cake

My children love cooking and baking in the kitchen with me. Recently, my nine-year-old daughter has been craving independence in the kitchen. She made my birthday cake last month with just a bit of help and direction. She used this Extreme Chocolate Cake recipe from All Recipes. It is pretty foolproof and very delicious.

Extreme chocolate Cake

As Lydia had already made this cake with a bit of help, she wanted to try it again without help for our Holy Thursday dinner. As she and Ellie worked diligently on their cake, they were even able to let their three-year-old brother “help.”

Homemade chocolate cake on the table

I love the props they used in photographing their cake!

The result was a beautiful and moist chocolate cake full of love and pride. They asked to use my camera and took plenty of pictures of their masterpiece.

girl standing on a chair taking a picture of Extreme Chocolate cake With the cake made and the mess from it (mostly) cleaned up, we had to pack up and head to speech therapy before joining our friends for this special dinner. During speech, the kids and I were listing to an audiobook and I ran the battery dry. It was totally dead. I was able to drift the car backward and as I worked to jump the vehicle three of the children decided to climb through the sunroof and sit on the car. The one holding the cake placed it on the seat and clambered up.

As I leaned over the battery I looked up and saw them smiling and waving at me from above. I told them to all get down and to buckle up. Well, perhaps you can guess where a foot landed. Right in the middle of the cake. I was not thrilled. Understatement. As I laid guilt on the person with the offending foot, Lydia came up and saw her formally beautiful cake.

This was the moment I was dreading. She looked at it, shrugged, and said: “That’s okay. I probably would have done the same thing.” (She does love to stick her head through the sunroof every chance she gets) “I just enjoyed making it.” She was right. It was an unfortunate accident and the boy with the unlucky foot was just that, the unlucky one.

Poor Ellie, who helped to make the cake, and was the one who put the cake down on the seat, was devastated. My frustration didn’t help matters at all. She was all chocolate and all tears. As she wiped her tears she wiped more and more chocolate on her face. She was such a sight. Lydia’s good attitude lightened the whole mood and we were able to move from frustration and tears to laughter and jokes. In the end, we were able to salvage a third of the cake and everyone got to enjoy a small piece of the girls’ labor and love.

Girl smiling and holding a stepped on cake

How many times do we lose sight of why we make food, of why we make an effort, and of why we try to make beautiful and delicious things? We make them for people — not for the camera and not to impress. Cooking and baking shouldn’t cause us to lose our peace just because it doesn’t turn out right (or because a foot landed in our beautiful creation).

Easier said than done, but I hear practice makes perfect.


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