On September 22, 2004, Grandma Is passed away and our family was forever changed. She was the one to make the holiday cookies and candy. She was the one that made the special bean and ham soup. She was the one that made Mom’s birthday schaum tortes. She was the one that made Lisa’s birthday cake and slippery frosting.
At the time of her passing, we weren’t thinking of all the information that went along with her, but when it came time to make Lisa’s birthday cake that December, we were at a loss. Someone had to make the birthday cake, but no one knew how to do it except Grandma and now it was too late to ask her questions.
So – I stepped up to the plate and decided that I could figure it out. After all, Grandma had entrusted me to make the family Christmas cookies. How hard could it be to make a birthday cake?
The cake itself is no big deal. Just a standard angel food cake. Got it. I have ruined a few cake pans over the years, but I have a really good pan now that works wonderfully. I also have a special navy blue wine bottle that stays on my window sill all year long and it’s only purpose is to hold the cake upside down in order to cool.
Now comes the challenge. The frosting. This frosting is not your standard store bought frosting. In our family, it’s called slippery frosting. I’m always amazed at how a tiny bit of ingredients can make enough frosting to cover the entire cake.
The ingredients are:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 egg white
- 1 cup boiling water
After you combine all the ingredients, you begin beating them together. You want the frosting to be able to make stiff peaks in the bowl. When you want to stop beating, keep going. When you think your arm is going to break from beating the ingredients, keep going. Maybe I’m doing something wrong, but it takes me anywhere from 15-30 minutes to beat the frosting till it peaks. (and this is with an electric mixer)
One year, I was concerned that it was taking so long so I thought “Hhhmmm – I’ll add more dry ingredients to offset the liquid… Yeah – that’ll work” and I added more sugar to the mixture. That was the year that I realized the purpose of the BOILING water… it is to dissolve the sugar crystals. When you add more sugar after the water is no longer hot, the sugar crystals don’t dissolve and you end up with crunchy frosting. It tasted right, but slippery frosting is not supposed to crunch.
Last year, after making this cake for 16+ years, I had an issue with the cake part and it came out lopsided. Also – the frosting wasn’t quite stiff enough, so we had puddles of frosting sliding off of it. That is my issue most years. Puddles of frosting. I tend to run out of patience to keep beating the frosting until stiff.
Keep in mind, Lisa has never made a complaint, negative comment or been even remotely disappointed in my attempts over the years. I think I’ve been completely successful in making Lisa’s cake 3 times. Well, 3 out of 17 ain’t bad. Maybe the 18th year will be the magic year.
Ever thought about working with a Life Coach? Are you creative or a writer who is frustrated with your inability to do the work you so desperately feel called to do? Check out Lisa Hoffman Coaching.