A Humbling Birthday Explosion

A Cake.
That’s how my brother likes to caption his photos.
This particular cake was Sassy’s 8th birthday cake this weekend. Last year we did store-bought cakes, but this year I thought it would be a good idea to let her pick out a cake from a cake book, and I could make it. Unfortunately, as it worked out, this cake did not get eaten, nor did the second cake I had made with the excess batter. And for rather…explosive reasons.

She chose a maypole themed cake, and it was pretty cute in the book, but simple. I made it cuter, using icing instead of green coconut, and fairy dolls. I even painstakingly arranged heart sprinkles around the side in a scallop pattern.
January birthdays are hard to plan for. Do we go skating? Will it be warm enough to toboggan? Should we cough up the cash to do a pool party? How many friends can fit in our house? Sassy’s birthdays end up being pretty quiet affairs – she might invite one friend for a sleepover, or just have family to supper. When you have seven or eight close friends, who have 2-3 siblings each, plus parents, a birthday party can quickly swell to 30 people. So we said “why not” and invited everyone this year. It was definitely warm enough to sled, so the kids brought their snow gear, and I put the kettle on for tea, and the coffee pot on the stove, and we sat down to visit after admiring the cake sitting on the counter. 
Minutes later, there was a tremendous bang and a crash from the vicinity of the stove. I thought the coffee pot had exploded, until I turned and saw the remains of the glass 9″x13″ pan that had held my extra cake and had been sitting on an unused burner of the stove. Instead of turning on the burner under the kettle, I had turned on the burner under the cake pan, and it had exploded with the heat.
There was glass everywhere, and it was almost impossible to know where to start. The cake was still sitting on the hot burner, and started to burn, smoke filling the room, so I started there, while another mom grabbed the broom to tackle the floor, and other moms ran curious kids out of danger. Glass spread in a 8 foot radius, and the shards were sharp! 
And my cake, the maypole cake that had been so admired, was not to escape unscathed. It was sprinkled with tiny shards of glass.  Two friends worked diligently to pick out the pieces, but soon saw that, short of scraping off all the icing, the cake would not be safe to eat. I sent Wade to town for a replacement “eating” cake.
I’m not a person who obsesses over what-ifs. And I don’t mind an embarrassing moment or two – I’ve always figured that it is the one commonality between people. But I do stress a little about being a good host to a group – I always forget to do something hostessy like serve coffee, or make sure everyone has a chair to sit on. And it is very humbling to make the largest (and most dramatic) mess you have ever made in front of five or six of your closest friends. It was a simple mistake – I might turn on the wrong burner twice a year at most – and I’m thankful for friends who have all had their own moment of destruction. And Sassy wasn’t heartbroken over the incident – after all, her cake was still pretty and she still blew out every one of the candles, and there was good replacement cake to eat after that.
And I can buy a new favourite cake pan.


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