I must admit, after a long, challenging Monday, it's hard to remember the pure elation that went into making this cake last Thursday night. Isn't it funny how far we swing during the course of just one week? My cycle typically begins with a fabulous "the world is a good place to be" type of feeling on Friday, an energetic, hopeful lilt on Saturday, a sleepy, slightly moody Sunday followed by a bad night of sleep, followed by a rough Monday at work. As the week goes on, I usually remember how to fall asleep before 1 a.m. I might turn off the TV at night and do something, think something, make something, see someone, and by the time Thursday arrives, I am a fully formed, nearly hopeful person again, ready to enjoy my weekend. Thursday is one of the better days, I think, right on the cusp of greatness. And this last Thursday was one of the best. On the docket after work, I had already planned to make a birthday cake for my sweetheart--and I do love devoting an entire night, at home alone, to baking. But then, as we were finishing dinner and I was hunting for my sifter and marveling at how I had managed to buy duplicate bags of confectioner's sugar and cocoa powder when I already had plenty of both at home, we got a phone call. First Robb's phone rang and he missed it, then my phone rang and I missed it, and then we both looked at our phones and saw that our friend Ryan had called. "Baby!" I yelled out, and Robb beat me to calling Ryan back. Our friend Jess, Ryan's wife, had gone into labor.
Ryan came over and dropped off his little King Charles pup, Mister, and uttered something joyful and slightly panicked like "I'm gonna be a dad....today!"Mister sulked on the couch. (He can't stand our dog Camper...too licky, too sniffy, too jabby in his giant eyeballs.) And then before I knew it, Ryan was off to the hospital and Robb was off to work and there I was with two mismatched dogs and an ambitious cake to bake.
I had forgotten to look up any cake recipes that day, so I did a quick search on my phone for a recipe in the grocery store. One of the first ones that came up was from Ina Garten--Beatty's Chocolate Cake--and when in doubt, always go with the Ina Garten recipe. There is a reason her cookbooks sell better than anyone else's. Her food is no fuss brilliant, her instructions could not be clearer. And you don't even mind doing annoying things like buttering the cake pan, then placing your parchment paper in the pan, then buttering it again and flouring. You know there is a good reason she's telling you to do it and you just do it.
While we waited for the cakes to cool, the dogs fought for prime real estate on my lap. Mister, who has the genetic edge of being an actual lap dog, won most rounds.