The Violent Femmes showed up in my kitchen right as I was getting ready to bake the April cake for the Cake Slice Bakers, an almond streamliner cake with lemon custard. I didn’t have the heart to tell them to kiss off, so I let them stay, so long as they promised to sit quietly at the kitchen table and not screw with my baking process.
Which they did not.
Turns out, the Femmes were more help than I thought they would be. First of all, because in putting together the ingredients for the cake, I almost added too much butter (if that’s even possible). I’d left two sticks on the counter to soften, and dumped both of them in, belatedly realizing that the recipe only called for 10 tablespoons of butter.
“Wait, how many tablespoons are in two sticks of butter?” I asked myself.
“Add it up!” the Femmes shouted back.
I counted on my fingers, did the math, and scooped out the excess six tablespoons and was all, “Hey, Violent Femmes, thanks for the encouragement. But please. No yelling in the kitchen.”
And they were all, “Let me go on!”
And I was all, “NO! This is MY kitchen!”
Even after that scuffle, though, the Femmes were still good kitchen mates, and decent conversationalists. Because do you know how tedious it is to temper eggs and milk into custard, whisking consistently until it’s entirely possible that your wrist will up and secede from the rest of your body? No? Well, it’s true. I did not find this out, however, until I was making the vibrant lemon custard that tops this cake, midway into the tedium. So it was nice to have someone to talk to during All The Whisking, even if the Femmes seemed a little, well, obsessed about the topic at hand.
Violent Femmes: “Do you like American music?”
Me: “I like all kinds of music.”
Femmes: “I like American music too.”
Me: “That’s nice.”
Me: (Pausing only slightly in the whisking) “I think you’ve done too many drugs.”
Eventually I had to cut off all conversation and concentrate on the custard, lest it become lemon-flavored scrambled eggs. And none too soon, I tell you, because the Femmes were teetering on the edge of going way too far emo for my liking, moaning and lamenting the fact that no one would go to the prom with them.
Anyway, after what seemed like an eternity of whisking, the custard looked thick enough to toss in a bowl, cover, and shove in the fridge for awhile while I made and cooled the cake portion. It was a rather easy to-do, as far as cakes go, though I was quite suspicious of the almond paste, being that it seemed dense and thick and how-the-shit-am-I-going-to-get-this-to-mix-in like when it lumped out of the jar. But considering there was virtually no whisking involved as compared to the custard-making, you could have told me to sift the flour ten times and twice on Sunday before adding it to the mix and I would STILL say that this was an easy-peasy cake to make.
Not that I would have sifted flour that many times. I don’t think I’ve sifted flour any times ever. Mostly because I don’t own a sifter. But if I did, you could bet that I would sift away. You know why? BECAUSE IT’S NOT WHISKING.
(No, I didn’t know, either, how averse I was to whisking until I made this damn cake. You learn something new every day, eh? Eh.)
Somewhere during all of this measuring and stirring and panning the Violent Femmes somehow managed to slip out the door, gone, daddy, gone, replaced by Miss Saigon, who was quickly replaced by Fantine and Eponine, but they didn’t stick around for long either because a certain Swede who shall remain nameless has declared them, “whiney.”
And that’s okay; I wasn’t up for sharing the cake with them anyway. I wanted to keep its dense, almondy goodness for myself, the bright, fresh lemon custard a perfect counterpart of tang—even if the result was a more soupy, yogurt-like that ran all over the cake instead of a thick and creamy texture that set nicely on top of the cake. I guess I didn’t do nearly enough whisking.