Scarvey column: Delicious disaster

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 18, 2012

By Katie Scarvey
After Bette Barber told me about how popular Pauline Graham’s Banana Cream Cake is at Christ Episcopal Church events, I decided to try my hand at it.
It turned out to be a little more of an adventure than I’d bargained for.
I haven’t made a cake from scratch in a long time. And now I remember why. My arm was aching by the time I had creamed the butter, Crisco and sugar.
Then things got really interesting. When I finished mixing the batter, I realized that there was only one round cake pan to be found.
I seem to vaguely recall that my husband had used one of the pans for something other than its intended purpose and ruined the surface, and I think I remember tossing it in the trash after muttering a few words under my breath.
For a two-layer cake, having only one pan wouldn’t be a big deal — but this cake has five or six layers. With only one pan, I had to bake the layers in shifts, which ate up a little more time than I would have liked.
I ended up with only four layers, probably thicker than the ones that Pauline bakes for her cakes. The first one was a bit messed up, sticking when I turned it out because I hadn’t greased the pan liberally enough.
I moved on to the whipped cream, and that presented no problem other than making my arm ache again. I chilled the bowl for 10 minutes in the freezer, as I was taught to do, and I also chilled the whisk I used (no, don’t have a mixer).
After the whipped cream was done, I began to assemble the layers as the recipe instructed, with cream and bananas between each. (I stopped a few times during this part to take pictures, perhaps because I had a wee premonition of the disaster to come.)
I got the layers stacked and finished icing the top and sides. Holding the cake stand (which had never been used before), I stepped over the doggie gate into the dining room where the light seemed optimal for taking pictures.
That’s when disaster struck. Because I may have used too much whipped cream beneath the cake’s first layer, or because I had too much whipped cream between the layers, everything began sliding all over the place, and the top layers shifted and flopped over.
I’m guessing that Pauline’s cakes don’t flop over.
I think that the next time I try this cake — and I will be making it again, because it’s scrumptious — I am going to omit the layer of whipped cream and bananas under the first layer of the cake.
I’m also going to invest in at least one more round cake pan.
I couldn’t figure out a way to make the whole cake look nice in a picture, so I sliced into the toppled mess and cut what resembled a normal piece of cake and put it on a plate.
It’s certainly not Pauline-worthy, but as they say, it eats good.