A small boy with a thread of hair that stuck straight up at the top of his head clambered up his, or rather, his mother’s kitchen counter. Once he was carefully balanced on his knees, the boy searched through a stack of cake pans before he found the one he was looking for, which was at the bottom of the pile. Without hesitating, he pulled the pan out from underneath the rest, and the remaining pans came clattering down. The desired pan was in the shape of a heart.
“Let’s see,” the boy said aloud, ignoring the pile of pans that were on the floor. “Two and two-thirds cups of plain cake flour. I’m sure this all-purpose flour will serve just as well. Flour is flour after all. What’s next?” He scanned down the list before saying, “two tablespoons of cocoa powder.”
After searching in every pantry he could reach, the young baker emerged triumphant with a container of hot chocolate. He added two tablespoons to the flour.
He checked his recipe once again, “one teaspoon baking soda.” After another round of searching every pantry, the boy added baking powder to the mixture.
“Now for a pinch of salt,” then he hesitated. “A pinch… how much is that?” He looked at the salt shaker and then his flour mixture. He opened the shaker to the largest hole and let it pour into the flour for about five seconds. “That should be enough,” he smiled. “After all, it’s better to have too much than too little!”
Just then a short, heavy boy walked into the kitchen. “Why hello there, Alfalfa! What are you doing here? You missed our club meeting!”
“Well you see,” Alfalfa stumbled. “Well, I just…”
“I’m making a red velvet cake for Darla,” he confessed.
“A cake… for Darla! Why would you do a thing like that? You never made a cake for the club, did you?”
“Well, no. But tonight me and Darla are celebrating our anniversary.”
“Anniversary!” Spanky repeated, growing more frustrated by the minute.
“Want to help?” Alfalfa offered.
“Of course not!” Spanky replied. Then he walked out of the room. A few moments later, however, he reappeared. “Say, Alfalfa,” he said, poking his head through the door, “do you suppose, if I help you make that cake, I could have some?”
“How much?” Alfalfa asked.
“Half?” Spanky ventured.
After contemplating the offer for a minute, Alfalfa replied, “I can’t give Darla half a heart.”
“Well, then,” Spanky said, “I’ll take my half after you’ve had your share.”
“Alright then!” Alfalfa agreed.
The two boys decided to split the remaining ingredients. Once they had finished, each boy went over what he had collected.
“I got half a cup of unsalted butter,” Alfalfa began, pointing to the stick of butter, “one and a half cups of caster white sugar,” he continued, pointing to a container of granulated sugar, “two eggs, and one cup of vegetable oil.”
“I got one teaspoon of white vinegar,” Spanky said proudly, “two teaspoons of vanilla extract, and two and a half teaspoons of red liquid food coloring, but I don’t know what one cup of buttermilk looks like.”
“It’s very simple,” Alfalfa replied. “Buttermilk is just butter and milk together.”
“Well how much of each?”
“I’ll show you.” Alfalfa took a carton of milk and a stick of butter out of the refrigerator. Then he mashed the stick of butter into the measuring cup and filled the rest of the cup with milk.
“I should have thought of that,” Spanky said as he dumped the “buttermilk” into the bowl. “What do we do now?”
“Mix them up, of course,” Alfalfa answered, not bothering to read the section of the recipe that instructed the dry ingredients to be sifted and whisked in a separate bowl from the wet ingredients. He also disregarded the instructions to beat the butter and sugar using an electric mixer separately until well combined before adding the eggs, one at a time. So, he skipped to the part where he should add the remaining ingredients to the bowl.
When Alfalfa unscrewed the cap off of the vanilla extract, the boys agreed that it smelled so good they should put more than the recipe called for. In went the whole bottle!
When all of the ingredients had been added, Alfalfa returned to the table with the electric mixer. “Now, Spanky,” he instructed, “you must be very careful when using this.” He then thrust the plug into the wall, turned the mixer on high and plunged it into the ingredients. Flour, sugar, butter, and everything else went flying across the room.
“Turn it off!” Spanky screamed as Alfalfa lost control of the mixer. Spanky dashed to the wall and pulled on the plug with all his might.
“This never happens when my mother makes cakes,” Alfalfa remarked as he surveyed the batter-covered table and floor.
“Never mind that,” Spanky said. “We still have enough in the bowl to make a cake.”
The boys peered into the bowl. “No!” Alfalfa said in distress, “I forgot to crack the eggs!”
For what felt like an hour, but in reality was only three minutes, Alfalfa and Spanky fished through the batter for bits of egg shell. When they had grown restless, they decided that eggshell wouldn’t be so bad and might actually add a desirable crunch to the cake. Throughout the process, Alfalfa frequently reminded Spanky not to eat the batter, so with great patience he looked forward to eating the cake.
After combining the ingredients with a wooden spoon, Alfalfa poured the batter into the pan.
“How long should we bake it for?” Spanky asked.
“It says right here to leave it in for twenty-five to thirty minutes,” Alfalfa replied after referring to the recipe. He placed the pan into the oven and glanced at the clock. After informing Spanky that when it was just half past one in the afternoon the cake would be ready, the two of them decided to play in the backyard while they waited.
Not long afterwards, a burning smell drifted into the backyard. At first, the two boys didn’t pay much attention, but when they remembered the cake they dashed into the kitchen and opened the oven. Smoke poured out when Alfalfa opened it, and, remembering to put on oven mitts after recalling a past mistake, he picked up the cake. The heart-shaped pan was filled with a charred, brown mush. Alfalfa placed it on the counter and looked mournfully at Spanky. So much for Darla’s cake…
“Red Velvet Cake.” 10 June 2016, RecipeTin Eats, https://www.recipetineats.com/red-velvet-cake/
Photo Credit: https://amblin.com/movie/the-little-rascals/