|Baking for Dummies
Author: SilverTurtle PM
Michelle McCool just wanted to do something special for Layla's birthday, why did everything have to be so difficult? LayCool.Rated: Fiction K - English - Humor/Romance - Michelle McCool & Layla - Words: 2,939 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 13 - Follows: 2 - Published: 06-25-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6084420
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: In honor of Layla's birthday I asked Lodylodylody to prompt me. She gave me this: prompt: LayCool, cake with frosting. An idea was instantly spawned and now there's a full grown fic just waiting for your attention. Enjoy.
BAKING FOR DUMMIES
Michelle was not the best cook in the world. In fact, she'd been known to burn water and make soggy toast. She and the culinary arts just did not mix well.
But it was Layla's birthday and she was willing to battle with the stove to do something special for her girlfriend.
She'd sent Layla off with her parents (who she'd flown over the pond specifically for this) for the day so Michelle would have the apartment and, more importantly, the kitchen to herself. She needed the extra room…and the privacy. Her work in the kitchen was embarrassing at best, mortifying if there were witnesses.
So she'd cleared them all out early in the morning and had pulled out a recipe book she'd hidden for weeks. She'd studied it in secret and purchased the ingredients necessary one at a time so Layla wouldn't notice them accumulating in the cupboards. Neither of them baked, so she'd had to be careful about buying the baking ingredients and had squirreled them away in places Layla wouldn't look as she cooked. It seemed she'd been successful as Layla had never spoken a word about any flour or baking soda turning up, and Michelle had patted herself on the back for getting one past the attentive Brit.
She laid the cookbook out on the counter, turned to the right page, and began her work for this special day.
She knelt to pull the flour from where she'd hidden it and discovered a sopping wet bag puddling into glue on the shelf. But it shouldn't have even gotten wet! How did that happen? She stuck her head into the low cupboard and discovered a pipe from the sink. A pipe that, apparently, had been leaking on her flour. She grumbled unhappily as she retrieved a tool kit from the hall closet and repaired the leak, testing it with running water to be certain she'd fixed that little problem. Then she cleaned up the gluey mess from the shelf, put on her jacket, and ran out for more flour.
Two hours, wasted!
Okay, she said to herself mentally when she reentered the kitchen with bag in hand, cookbook open. Fresh flour. Let's do this thing!
She dumped her flour into the bowl. Adding baking powder, baking soda, and salt as the recipe dictated.
Setting her dry ingredients aside she started with the rest.
Butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, buttermilk. She searched those out from their respective hiding places. Butter softened and ready to go. Sugar, perfect. She mixed those together.
She cracked the first egg into the bowl and was assaulted by the horrible gut-wrenching scent of sulfurous rot. Fan-freaking-tastic. Her eggs were rotten. And now the sugar and butter mixture she had was ruined because the rotting egg was seeping irrevocably into it. She dumped the mix and the rest of the eggs into the trash and carried that with her to the dumpster as she took another trip to the grocery store.
Michelle returned half an hour later with eggs tucked under her arm and realized she had used the last of their butter in that mush she'd had to toss out. She could have spit in frustration. Instead she carefully set the eggs in the refrigerator and once more went to the market.
Another half hour and she returned with more butter.
The hand-mixer broke when she tried to mix the new butter with the sugar, smoke hissing out from where its tiny motor was housed. She'd forgotten to soften the butter first. She nearly wept as she left to buy a new mixer…and more butter.
This time she remembered to soften the butter before mixing and successfully got to the step with the eggs. Each fresh egg cracked smoothly and without mishap into the bowl. She turned on the mixer and dipped it in sending splashed out material all over the kitchen and herself. She lay the mixer down with stiff control, dripping buttery mash from her nose, when by this point all she wanted to do was throw the whole thing out the window.
Instead she performed some hasty breathing exercises Layla had taught her doing yoga and cleaned things up.
Going for the third time to mix this she discovered a not so startling lack of sugar. She sighed with defeat and reached once more for her coat.
She returned with a face burning from embarrassment. She'd suffered some teasing from the store's clerk about her many trips today. When the young man had commented a little meanly about the hardened gunk in her hair she nearly put a sleeper hold on him just to shut him up.
She mixed up butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla, happy to have finally gotten that part taken care of.
She dragged the bowl of dry ingredients over and prepared to mix them into the rest and some buttermilk besides. She had the presence of mind to check the buttermilk was still good before she added it to anything. If she had to go to the store again she'd prefer to know it before she messed everything up…again. Thankfully, the buttermilk was just fine and she commenced her mixing.
There, the batter was all mixed and ready to be poured into the pans.
Pans that they didn't have because they never baked.
Michelle nearly screamed.
Once more she donned her coat and braved the clerk to get the pans she needed.
She returned triumphant. The teasing clerk had been on his break and she'd gotten into the line of a lovely older woman who thought Michelle was just the sweetest thing for going to all this trouble.
She washed the pans and dried them. Greased and floured them. Then split the batter between them evenly.
She slid the pans into the oven and set the timer for forty minutes. Then, she decided to take a shower before she made the frosting.
She returned to the kitchen freshly cleaned and in a much better frame of mind.
She got the shortening and butter she needed for the frosting and dumped its measured amounts into a clean bowl.
She pulled a jar of marshmallow fluff out of the cupboard. Marshmallow fluff was the one thing Michelle hadn't had to buy in secret; they already had a supply of it in their cupboards. Layla was a fiend for the stuff. She loved it on nearly anything. Peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwiches, ice cream and marshmallow fluff, hot cocoa and marshmallow fluff and, on one memorable occasion, pickles and marshmallow fluff (Michelle couldn't even try to pretend to understand that particular combination). Michelle only liked marshmallow fluff as a topping. On Layla. Still, Layla adored the sticky gunk and so Michelle bought it for her every time she went grocery shopping for the week.
She dumped a generous portion, perhaps a bit more than the recipe called for, of the fluff into the bowl with the shortening and butter and beat it all together. Adding in the vanilla and mixing again.
Then came the powdered sugar, two pounds of it, one cup at a time added to the gooey mess. It was tedious, and Michelle just knew that Layla would insist on dentist visits sometime after reading the recipe, but it would be worth it. She carefully stirred in two tablespoons of milk until the frosting was perfect and nearly did a victory dance. Then she decided that a victory dance was called for, she'd done this part with no mistakes and there were no witnesses to see her foolishness, and so she cut loose and swung about wildly proclaiming her victory over the frosting. She danced joyfully right up until she swung her hand out too wide and swept the frosting bowl from the counter and sent it crashing to the floor, its contents sloshing out of the bowl and spreading sweetly across the floor.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Michelle wailed as she sank slowly to her knees. This couldn't be happening! She'd done everything right! And wham! It's all gone to nothing!
Miserably she grabbed out a fresh roll of paper towels and started wiping the mess up, intent on getting it all before it cemented to the floor. She sniffled as she pulled out a mop and attacked the linoleum with all the bottled frustration this whole thing was causing her. She kept a running mantra in her head that it would all be worth it, it was for Layla, it would all be worth it, for Layla, worth it for Layla. It was all that kept her sane as she slumped dejected into a chair. She would have to wait for the cake to finish before she could go out and get more powdered sugar.
When the timer beeped she pushed herself out of the chair and put on an oven mitt. She reached into the oven and discovered, to her dismay, that she had never turned it on! There sat her perfect rounds of batter, uncooked and goopy, waiting on cold racks. Michelle turned her eyes skyward and addressed a wordless plea to her ceiling.
She closed the oven door and grabbed her coat. Off to the store to buy that powdered sugar.
She returned with tensed shoulders and two pounds of confectionary sugar. That little snot of a clerk, the male one, had actually laughed at her misfortune! She had wanted so badly to put him in his place. One good clothesline would have done it. But since she had no desire to be arrested on Layla's birthday she'd thrust her money at him angrily and marched out without a word.
Now she scowled as she turned on the oven, set the time, and went about making the frosting again. She was bound and determined that it would work this time.
The frosting came off without a hitch and Michelle breathed a sigh of relief. Now she just had to wait for the cakes.
Twenty minutes later and the timer went off, rousing Michelle from her contemplation of the knots in their breakfast table.
She was tense with anticipation as she slid her hands into the oven mitts and opened the oven door. Two perfect little cakes greeted her grateful eyes and she very carefully removed them from the oven, setting them on the stove top.
She pulled a mitt from one hand and reached for a toothpick. She stuck that toothpick deep into the center of one cake and pulled it smoothly out again. Clean as a whistle, she smiled. She repeated the process on the other cake and hummed in satisfaction. The cakes were perfect.
She allowed them an hour to cool down before she slid one out of its pan and onto a serving platter. She trimmed the top so it was flat and spread a portion of the frosting over the top of it. She dumped the other cake on top of that, lining up the rounds, and painting the whole thing over with the frosting. Then she set the whole thing to rest in the center of the table.
Michelle pulled out a small container of strawberries, Layla's favorite fruit, and washed each one. She very carefully, for she was not proficient with knives, cut the stems off and sliced each piece of fruit in half. When she had finished that she carried the fruits over to the cake and neatly arranged them split side down in geometric patterns on top of the cake and down the sides.
She looked down upon her creation and was filled with pride.
She'd done it. She had actually baked an entire cake from scratch. And it looked gorgeous! It would certainly be worth all the trouble she'd gone through to see the look on Layla's face when she presented her with this work of art.
Michelle cleaned the kitchen until it gleamed and everything was in its proper place. When Layla looked in here it would be cleaner than it's ever been and there would be no evidence of Michelle's disastrous morning and afternoon of baking.
When that was finished she put on the slinky, yet modest, dress that Layla liked best on her and sat down to await her lover's return.
Less than an hour after Michelle had finished her preparations Layla and her parents walked through the door chatting and laughing, their accents creating the perfect cue for Michelle to stand and greet their return.
"Welcome home," Michelle said as she kissed Layla's cheek and ushered everyone into the living room.
They had a pleasant sit-down dinner courtesy of Layla's favorite take-out Thai place. Layla recounted the lovely day she'd spent out with her parents catching up and doing all the tourist things. Michelle smiled and laughed, slowly relaxing with the help of her lover's voice. When Layla ran out of things to talk about Michelle smiled and got up.
"I have something for you," she could barely contain her pleasure.
"Oh?" Layla sat up a little straighter with a happy grin, "What is it?"
Michelle slipped into the kitchen and headed directly for the serving platter her cake perched on. She spent a few moments fussing over how it looked, straightening strawberries here and there until she was satisfied with its appearance, then she hefted it and turned to make her way back out.
She didn't realize that the length of time she'd spent in there had concerned Layla enough that she got up to check on her and as a result ran directly into her shorter lover, the beautiful perfect cake meeting the acquaintance of Layla's mouth a bit more gracelessly and forcefully than Michelle had intended.
Michelle stood open mouthed in shock as Layla spluttered, clearing cake from her eyes and nose.
"Oh my god," Michelle snapped out of her daze, "Layla, baby, I am so sorry! I didn't know you were there! Oh, god, what a mess. Shit. I'll help you clean up." She turned and set the platter, with the remains of her once perfect cake, back on the table. She ripped some paper towels off the roll and carefully wiped at the Englishwoman's face, clearing her eyes more thoroughly than Layla's fingers had done.
Michelle was nearly in tears. All of that work to show Layla how much she meant to her, to show her how much she loved her, with this perfect homemade cake and instead of feeding it to her she threw it in her face! Why had it all gone wrong? What had Michelle done to be cursed this way? Now Layla was going to be mad and Michelle hadn't even done it on purpose! She was shaking as she wiped frantically at Layla's face.
"Chelle," Layla tried to get Michelle's attention, but Michelle was locked in her head repeating recriminations and being miserable. Layla's hands caught Michelle's and stopped her busy work, "Michelle, what's wrong?"
Michelle looked down at her lover, her lover covered in cake and dripping sticky frosting, and she finally broke down and cried. She tried explaining through hiccoughs and gasps and tears how much she'd gone through that day, how hard she'd tried, how she'd just wanted to surprise Layla with something special because Layla was special and deserved it and she loved her so much and it had all gone to hell and now Layla's birthday was ruined because she was wearing her cake and Michelle was just so so sorry.
"Michelle," Layla said softly, amusement lilting her voice, "you git." She smiled fondly up at Michelle through her layer of sticky goodness, "Today was perfect. This moment is perfect, even with all the mess, because I'm with you. The cake would have been lovely," she opined, lifting her fingers and swiping them through the mess on her cheek and finding a strawberry to pop in her mouth, "and goodness, it's delicious, but really the best thing it just knowing you care for me enough to brave the horrors of baking to do this."
"Really?" Michelle asked with a hitch in her voice, still unsure and on the verge of spilling more tears.
"Really," Layla confirmed, her soft brown eyes gazing adoringly into Michelle's own a beacon of her affection shining radiantly from underneath her sugary mask. "I love you, Chelle."
Michelle paid no mind to the cakey mess she got all over her hands, face, and dress as she grabbed Layla and kissed her with everything she had. When they separated they were both breathless and weak in the knees. "Happy birthday, Layla."
Layla kissed Michelle again thinking it certainly was a happy day.
And it would become even happier after they kicked her parents out and Michelle cleaned this off of her. She'd tasted the marshmallow fluff, and she knew Michelle only liked marshmallow fluff one way.
A/N: Please review (and go check out Lody's fic "A Ring of Their Own", it is awesomesauce).