Betty Crocker cakes were known to be the queen of cakes, they were moist, they were rich, they were covered in ‘frosting’, and we rarely had them in our house. But yesterday, as part of the preparation for publication of A Sense of Occasion – my book of Short Stories about being a mod girl in the Sixties, to be published on 1 May 2014 – Chris Wilkinson, the art director, and I decided to make a Betty Crocker cake to see if the end result would make a good cover. After all, in those days, a Betty Crocker cake was an occasion in itself.
We decided that the Red Velvet Cake would be the best from the Betty Crocker range – red from the paprika and carmine, velvet presumably from the cake. Three eggs, 4½ tablespoons of oil, some water and the mix, what could be easier? Well, the hand whisk broke, but it was old. The main difficulty was the lack of two same sized cake tins for the two layers. That was resolved when the cake came out of the oven, by cutting off an outer circle from one layer but my cake cutting skills are not what they were – if I ever had any, so there was uneven-ness. No problem – all faults could be covered by frosting (bought in a separate tub. Betty Crocker is still expensive). And yet, somehow, there wasn’t enough frosting in the world to cover the tragedy on the cake rack.
You would think, at the end of it all, that you could sit down with a nice cup of tea and savour a slice of delicious, soft, moist cake. But it didn’t taste like that. It was just too sweet. It was a cake-mix cake.
So will a version of this cake become the cover? We’ll decide soon. Any views gratefully received.
But all I could think about as we prepared the cake was the TV advert which made people rush out in droves to buy Betty Crocker. ‘It’s so nice to have a cake around the house, a Betty Crocker cake around the house.’