Those nasty box cakes
My mother had an electric mixer with a rotating bowl that blended her cakes into creamy smoothness, and she always let me lick the bowl clean. All that yummy raw batter.
She had nothing but contempt for box cakes: “Mrs. So-and-So made one of those cakes from a box for the party. It tasted terrible.”
I asked her what terrible tasted like. “Chemicals,” she said. I was quite impressed with her knowledge.
To my mother, box cakes were a sign of laziness. You made a cake “from scratch” for your family, with wholesome ingredients like twice-sifted, bleached cake flour, white sugar and fresh raw eggs. You didn’t take short cuts when it came to cake.
The devil in Duncan Hines
Box cakes have come a long way from the early 60s. When I baked for my children, nothing could hold a birthday candle to a Duncan Hines Devil’s Food Cake Mix. It came out perfect every time. And, gosh, it was so damn easy.
My mother, however, was certain she’d passed her made-from-scratch ethics down to me. I’ll never forget a birthday gathering when she asked me, loudly, one discerning brow raised, in front of my mother-in-law, “Is this cake scratch?”
She assumed I’d impress everyone by saying yes, like a good daughter who’d learned her lessons from the master.
It took me a moment. Should I lie? “You can’t tell?” I answered. She nodded proudly. I confess I felt a little guilty as I looked around the table. Surely no one could tell.
I hoped not, anyway. Devil’s Food Cake indeed.
Linda K. Sienkiewicz is the author of In the Context of Love, adult contemporary fiction, a 2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist.
Angelica Schirrick had always suspected there was something deeply disturbing about her family, but the truth was more than she bargained for.