It’s a horrible mess here at the house this morning, a low-grade discombolution that began last week. I pinpoint it to the Maple Cake Catastrophe. I tried to make my own cake flour with instructions from the internet and the cake turned out to be a flop. That’s not to say it wasn’t tasty; each cake slice, morsel, and crumb was consumed in the manner intended. It tasted dutifully like maple as did the buttercream frosting. But it was dense and heavy. When completely filled, frosted and upright on the cake plate, it weighed in at close to five pounds.
I’ve researched available cake flours and there’s no need to have a long discourse about Swans Down versus Softasilk today. It’s heart-warming to know King Arthur makes an unbleached cake flour (never bleached, never bromated). I’ll investigate all the options.
I contemplated making a “flourless” cake, as I mourn the current lack of appropriate flour in my pantry. I skimmed a few recipes and concluded I’d prefer not to make a cake this week. There is no way something I baked on the fly would ever taste as delicious as the memory of the first flourless cake I ate, ironically enough, from the Flour Bakery + Cafe in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
No cake today; pardonnez-moi. Substance must trump style. But…for the sake of the blog, let’s have a brief style break.
As I tip-toe dangerously close to the edge of the style or substance debate, let me tell you about an attempt at stylish writing that failed the substance test. I got an e-mail this week from a store I used to frequent. They were redesigning their website and replacing it with a more user-friendly, highly functioning one. The e-mail whispered and then screamed that the store’s owners admitted the new site would be “shamefully GORGEOUS.” Not only was it going to be shamefully GORGEOUS, it was going to make all my “dreams come true…and so much more!”
The communication promised that if I sat back, relaxed and counted down the minutes until I could log into the new website, I could plan on doing it on launch day with “uninhibited glee.”
I haven’t shopped at this store in quite a while. It’s outside the dull glee-less thoroughfares over which I now travel. But if I had been frequenting the store, I would have been able to pick up my own tiny stuffed Paddington Bear, which the store was giving out in commemoration of the new website. The e-mail did, however, extend sincere apologies to any customer who had not transacted business at the store in the last 12 months. “A credit card transaction within the last 12 months of launch date is necessary to receive your stuffed Paddington Bear memento.”
Earlier this week, during our monthly “party of two” book club, I told my brother about the store’s dramatic promise of the good life through their new technology platform. While he was laughing at my dramatic reading of the missive, I pointed out the e-mail’s picture of a small stuffed Paddington Bear, the store’s mascot. Jim gave me a sidelong glance and said deadpan, “you’re going to blog about it, right?”
Truthfully, I had forgotten about the new shamefully GORGEOUS promise of a rich life through uninhibited glee until I logged into my e-mail this morning and received my new password to the store’s website. The format and the images were all perfectly lovely. I looked through the calendar of store events; things were going well for them, I could tell. They had several lines of new products, aimed at a younger demographic than old cake flour coveting Baumer. I was surprised that I hadn’t received an invitation to any of these events, but perhaps my customer profile had fallen out of favor in the more than 12 months since I’d swiped my credit card through their turnstiles of commerce.
I paused for a moment, sad that my travels had taken me so far from the little store I once loved and my inability to trade in their shamefully GORGEOUS mercantile stalls had kept me from receiving a small stuffed Paddington Bear.
Then I looked again at the e-mail and laughed at the promise made and the actual product delivered.
Sound and fury, baby, that’s the American way.