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Through remarkable luck and generous friends (!!), I have come to be known in my circle as a cook to be partially reckoned with; who has garnered some experience and a slim measure of gravitas where those who attend our little dinner soirées have come to appreciate my skills as a dilettante cook who is master of a few odd culinary skills but familiar and handy in many different cuisines. Whether it is Thai, French, Italian, Filipino, or Korean, I’ve tried each numerous times and have gained some moderate familiarity with these varied styles.

Baking, too, though admittedly, I have a serious fear of making buttercream . Past efforts have been sullied by errors, inexperience, and hutzpah, yet miraculously most have come out acceptable to the guests–if not to me. Today, Friday, my first of two days off in the week, found me hustling into my kitchen at the late hour of 1pm to begin the task of putting the dessert, Moka Biscuit, together for our two guests.

A series of kitchen disasters ensued.

To begin with, the Moka Biscuit cake, when simply described in English, is a sponge cake with a coffee-flavored buttercream frosting, with the sponge liberally soaked in a sweet mix of water, sugar, and dark rum flavoring. That went well–how difficult is it to mix water, sugar, and rum? Very. See the boring pic below!

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Next, there will be a layering of toasted almonds on the cake. These, of course, need to be toasted in the oven at about 350F for about 7-10 minutes. Effortless. Do it, and put them aside.

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Of course, any cake needs the actual sponge itself, that mixtur of flour, eggs and sugar which needs to be baked. For this, I bought myself an 8″ cake ring and lined it with parchment.

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Also require are lots of bowls, lots of mixing, and a mess of amazing difficulties. See?

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Then bowls for flour, bowls for creaming…why do I do this? Am I really having fun?

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After baking, I noticed despite its gorgeous lift, it seemed…wrong. This pretty little sponge cake wasn’t completely cooked! I put it back in the oven to 350F again and gave it another ten minutes…and another. Finally, at about 40 total minutes, the damn thing was fully cooked, though despite a covering of aluminum foil slightly browned too much along the edges. JEEZIS….here it is full and lively and here, after having been cooked properly and naturally sunken a bit–

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I’d noticed that when I attempted to slice the sponge into two layers that there would definitely be a problem attempting to cut something still wet in the middle. As I stated, I noticed and baked it to its finish and the separation went fine.

After that, I must have gotten flustered. When making buttercream frosting, you must have your ingredients at room temperature–both the butter and the pastry cream. Alas, what had I been thinking? Try to blend cold butter with yogurt just out of the fridge–might as well try to blend rocks and river water. No way.

I finally realized that there was nothing for it–I applied the ugly buttercream frosting, replete with its chunks of butter floating like white eyes in the beige mess and lathered up the cake. I crunched the almonds, applied them on top to hide most of the ugliness, and after dinner made the presentation. It tasted just fine by all reports, even my wife who is notorious for her honesty, but lesson learned. Frosting. Room temperature. Idiot.

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