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I like to bake.

When I was a business manager working 70-hour weeks, stepping into the kitchen for a couple of hours was like walking onto a desert oasis. Everything was quiet, there were no distractions, and I could concentrate on doing something I’m not much good at.

Yes, I like to bake.

No, I’m not a good cook. Enthusiastic and willing, yes. Accomplished and repeatedly successful, no.

But my kids and grandchildren like my cooking, so they say.

We’re having birthday parties for my oldest daughter, Amy, and my middle grandchild, Jaden, on Sunday, and I said I’d make the cakes. Yes, cakes.

Amy’s cake is simple: yellow cake, chocolate icing, the richer the better. Done.

Jaden, on the other hand, got a little more creative in his cake request.

“I want a blue cake with a pink piggy bank on it,” he said. “A circle cake. With applesauce.”

Jaden had his official “kid” birthday a week ago and he was nice enough to save a couple of pieces of the party cake and some doughnuts for grandmom and me. He brought the goodies with him when he stayed with us for a couple of days, and I watched him during the day.

“It’s a male-bonding vacation” Jaden’s mom told him as she walked out the door. In the middle of our days together, that piece of birthday cake he brought seemed just right for an afternoon snack. But when I opened the plastic container, I got a surprise.

Somebody’s little fingers had scraped all the icing off my piece of cake.

This little incident taught me that Jaden doesn’t really care what color the cake is, but the icing better be good.

And that was something on my mind Saturday when I was finished baking…because his cake wasn’t going to be blue.

I tried.

Lord knows I tried.

“How much blue food coloring do I add?” I asked my dear wife before she went to the store.

“Start with a little and keep going until it’s blue enough,” she said.

That was easy, I figured.

Jaden’s cake—by request—was an applesauce spice cake, something I’ve made many times. The ingredients include a yellow cake mix, eggs and butterscotch pudding. You color connoisseurs out there know where this is going.

I got the cake ingredients all mixed up and added the blue color. I couldn’t quite tell what color was coming out, so I turned on all the lights in the kitchen. And the more lights I turned on, the greener the cake looked.

More blue food coloring.

Greener cake.

The more blue I added, the farther away the cake was from anything I could recognize. I’d started with a Kelly Green color that looked a little like a pistachio cake I once made. That was the “good” green. Then it got to be a darker, bluer green. Kind of like the algae bloom in Lake Ontario at Sodus Point.

Oh my.

I chanced just a little more blue in the cake batter, figuring this would tip the scales to something that looked blue.

Nope. Now I had a color that could be aptly described as “gall bladder.”

I figured it was time to stop adding food coloring and take my chance on baking the cake, hoping that heat would temper the thing into something more attractive. Into the over went the cake.

An hour later, I took a peek. The color had indeed changed, and the cake looked a little turquoise. Close enough to blue, I figured. And it tasted fine.

The icing for his cake is pre-made and store-bought. No problems there. Now I’m looking for a pink piggy bank…


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