Never bake a cake with a toddler

First of all, you should know that my floor had been mopped the day before I committed this crime of stupidity.

In a fit of motherly optimism, I decided to let Small Boy help me bake a cake.  He is 21-months old and completely enamored with all things culinary, so I decided to let my little Escoffier observe and learn, thinking, “what’s the worst that could happen?” I had about 1 cup of greek yogurt in the fridge that was rapidly passing it’s expiration date and we are trying not to waste any food, so I settled on a lemon-yogurt cake. I know, I KNOW it is the exact same cake described in Bringing Up Bébé  and I promise that had nothing to do with my decision.  After the mayhem in my kitchen I think I’ll write my own book and call it Cleaning Up Bébé.

I put Small Boy on a chair next to me as I stood at the kitchen counter.  Working with the Bon Appetit magazine recipe for Lemon Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze I poured flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.  Small Boy’s lightening fast hands reached for the knife block and he pulled out a 8-inch chef’s knife and slashed the air before I could even start hyperventilating. Gently, I took the knife from him, resisting the urge to snatch it away. He smiled charmingly at me and plucked a pair of kitchen shears from the knife block.  Ok, I get it. I removed the knife block from the counter, but in the instant that I had my back turned Small Boy had taken a measuring cup and started to measure my flour/baking powder/salt mixture into the front of his pants (I found flour in his diaper later).

“NO!

Giving him a whisk for distraction, I cracked three eggs into a bowl and then reached into the cupboard for some vanilla.  Small Boy thoughtfully picked up the bowl and laughed as he tipped the eggs and they dropped one-by-one into the silverware drawer, and then dribbled down the cupboard onto the floor. They sound like this when they hit your silverware: “plup, plupp, splut!”

“Ahh!  Oh no, oh no, ohnoohnoohno!”

While I bent down and frantically tried to stop any more yolk from dribbling into the floor Small Boy quietly took a spoon and measured some flour down the back of my shirt.

“What the…oh shi…oh fuuuuu…” my blood pounded in my head but I didn’t resort to screaming profanities.

I removed him from the chair and he immediately slipped and fell on the egg whites and then took off running, leaving little shiny egg white footprints all over the floor. He returned with a broom and a dustpan. I was mopping the floor with a rag and didn’t catch him in time before he dragged my broom through the raw eggs.

“Mommy DOESN’T NEED YOUR HELP RIGHT NOW!!!” I said in a hysterically high-pitched voice, trying not to scream. Then I leaned against the refrigerator and started laughing  like a deranged hyena. Small Boy stared with wide, gray eyes.

After removing his clothes and cleaning the egg off of his feet, I sat him down with some books and assessed the damage.  Egg had puddled into two drawers of utensils and tupperware, which meant everything had to be washed (I don’t have a dishwasher, so this was a crisis). The counter was covered with rapidly drying egg and flour, which was turning into cement. There was flour in my hair, in his hair, in his pants, down my shirt.

I had no idea how much flour he had liberated from the bowl, so I just dumped in a few extra tablespoons, mixed everything together, and snarled as I slapped it into the oven.  Small Boy toddled off, dragging my EuroCuisine yogurt maker behind him like a pull toy. An hour later the cake emerged, golden, moist, and perfect on the edges, completely raw on the inside.  Eventually the top collapsed into a crevasse of oily custard. When Huzzybee came home he asked “what’s your problem?” I poured myself a glass of wine and considered giving him a slice of slimy, raw cake and letting him draw his own conclusions.

Crisp on the outside, raw in the middle. Mmmm...
Crisp on the outside, raw in the middle. Mmmm…
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