Bike rodeos, hakuna matata and bundt cakes

While I was gone last weekend, it was bike rodeo time at school. I don’t know if schools all around the country have bike rodeos or if it’s just a Texas thing. Maybe you have bike rodeos but call them something else. Perhaps a bike festival.

It’s essentially an event where kids bring their bikes to school and weave in and out of cones and ride in a circle and a few other things like that. And since I was out of town, P was solely in charge of all bike rodeo duties, including taking Caroline up to school to practice on the course the day before.

She’d been a little nervous about it and we discussed it the night before I left. I tried to reassure her and even asked, “Remember what it says in the Bible about worrying?”

And she answered, “Yes. Hakuna Matata.”

That particular passage is found in the gospel of Pumba.

And then I got nervous when P texted me while I was at dinner on Thursday night and said Caroline was really nervous while practicing and even wiped out a few times. That’s how you know you’re a mom. When you’re at a really nice dinner and you’re worrying about how well your child is going to weave in and out of orange cones the next day.

As it turns out she did just great when it came time for the real thing and even told P afterwards that she was “amazed” at how well she did on the cones.

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Which makes that time I spend worrying about her self-esteem appear to be wasted.

In other news, I was tucking her in last night and she said, “Mom? You have something right there by your eye.” And so I wiped my eye and asked if I got it. She looked at me closer and said, “Never mind. You just have old people eye.”

It’s a moment I’ll cherish forever.

And confirmation that maybe I need to worry more about my own self-esteem.

And, finally, I am in the midst of a small crisis.

From as early as I can remember, my Nanny always made cinnamon cake. It was a guarantee that any time you walked through her front door there was either a warm cake coming out of the oven or one already waiting on the countertop.

And so it has always been one of my comfort foods, along with frito pies made with Hormel chili from a can. Which reminds me that Nanny also used to make the best chili-cheese sandwiches, but she made those with Wolf Brand chili and a slice of cheddar cheese.

Clearly I am a woman with sophisticated culinary tastes.

Anyway, I love to make a cinnamon cake. And it’s essential that you make it in a bundt pan because that’s how Nanny always made it. But lately something has gone awry.

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Because I’m pretty sure this isn’t how it’s supposed to look.

Martha Stewart and Nanny would be so sad.

Granted, this one already has a few chunks taken out of it because cinnamon cakes don’t last long at my house, but it wasn’t pretty even before that.

At first I thought the problem was that I wasn’t greasing the cake pan well enough, but now scientific research in the form of five failed cinnamon cake attempts has led me to believe that fault may lie with my bundt pan.

So I’m going to buy a new one tomorrow. Or whenever I remember.

And I’ll be sure to let you know how it turns out because I realize now I’ve brought you into my bundt cake troubles and you won’t be able to sleep until you know how it all works out.

In case you’re wondering about the cinnamon cake recipe, it’s also called Sock It To Me cake. Except Nanny always added a whole extra cup of sugar to the recipe because WHY NOT?

Oh, and she baked it for 55 minutes at 350 instead of 45 minutes of 375.

And no matter how hard you try, it never tastes as good as hers always did. Even when it actually comes out of the bundt pan in one piece.

Hakuna Matata.

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  1. Lacey says

    Did you grease it then flour it? I forgot to flour mine once and same thing happened! I grew up with my Granny’s Sock it to Me cakes, makes me want to go bake one right now 😉 good luck on your next one!

  2. says

    I am amazed at Caroline’s biking abilities! :) I grew up in the country and did not learn to ride a bike. Got one for Christmas, but my dad backed over it with a cattle trailer the next day. I borrowed a friend’s bike to ride for a day on campus at A&M and ran into three people. I parked it at a bike rack and told my friend where to come pick it up. Nothankyouverymuch.

    Also, I have terrible Bunt cake skills. I prefer to mooch from my mother in law.

  3. Jessica says

    I love your posts, and you’re definitely on a roll in the funny department this week!

    Not sure if this will help, but several comments for the recipe you linked talk about the change in Duncan Hines cake mix package size affecting the cake. Is there any chance a couple less ounces of cake mix is causing your trouble?

    • AngAK says

      When using the smaller size cake mix, try using just 3 eggs. this should reduce the liquid content enough to make a better cake.

  4. Tammy Minnick says

    Oh the school bike rodeo…When my girls were little we lived on a dirt road. Not even good smooth dirt, more like rocks! So in order for them to ride their bikes we had to “go to the pavement”. Which clearly was A LOT of trouble so my oldest never really mastered the art of bike riding. And then 4th grade rolled around and about week into school she came home distraught! It was the bike rodeo and how was she going face the world when she was in 4th grade and couldn’t ride a bike?!?! Needless to say, we spent every waking hour at “the pavement”. Which by the way, is the school parking lot. And by being there, we also had to make sure so NO ONE knew what we were up to. Because how embarrassing would that be!
    Great memories! She is now 20 years old and never rides a bike…

  5. Amy says

    Did you get a new oven? The new energy saver ovens hid the heating device. It now takes 30-45 minutes to pre- heat an electric oven…energy efficient…really??? Anyway, try pre-heating your oven longer if you have a new one. My appliance person told me this after I purchased my new oven and was burning everything on the bottom and it was still raw on top. In addition to being energy efficient, it’s a real time saver too…LOL!

  6. Patsy says

    I think your problem could be that Duncan Hines reduced the package size. I use the cake part of that recipe for cake layers. I have used it for years and the box size was 18.25 ounces. About 6 months ago the box size became 16.5 ounces. It took me a while to figure out what was wrong with my cake layers. If you add 1/3 cup cake mix from a second box it should be fine. AND you won’t have to buy a new pan! Love your book.

  7. Jill says

    I’m going through the same problems with the same cake! And your post reminded me that I’ve been meaning to buy a new bundt pan for, oh, at least six months. That is my family’s favorite cake, too. Only we call it sour cream cake. Whatever you call it, it’s still delicious. (Even when it doesn’t look too pretty!)

  8. Michele Albert says

    How long are you waiting before flipping it out of the pan? Sometimes if the cake is too cool the sugar will cause your cake to stick to the pan.

    Thank you for the laugh, hakuna matata is the bible’s answer for worrying, BRILLIANT!

  9. Colorado says

    “Old people eye”! Too funny! My son once told me that I had a “loose neck”, thanks for that because now I’m extremely conscience of my neck. And the Gospel according to Pumba — LOVE IT!

  10. Bonnie says

    As soon as I read about your cinnamon cake, I clicked over to the recipe because I knew I needed to make some of that deliciousness for my crew. Well, in looking at some of the comments, someone was complaining that her cake wasn’t turning out because Duncan Hines now makes their cake mix 2oz. smaller! So I wonder if that could be the problem with yours? ( because we all know it’s not the chef)

  11. Jill says

    My mom made Sock It To Me cake back in the 70’s. I actually asked her about it awhile back and she could not find the recipe. Thanks for bringing it back into my life!!

  12. Christina says

    I feel your pain. I’m still doing okay baking cakes, but I haven’t made a normal-looking (or tasting) pan of brownies since we moved into our house almost 9 years ago. I have tried all different brands, made-from-scratch recipes, brand new ingredients and all different cooking times. Nothing works…and I’ve been making brownies since I was a kid.

    I blame the gas oven because at this point, I don’t believe it can possibly be me.

    And on a side-note, I love your book. I feel like you might be writing about my life.

  13. says

    Maybe we can start a support group for Mothers of Nine Year Olds!! This morning as I was touching up my make-up before leaving for school, Emily looks at me funny and says “What’s that black stuff under your eyes, you look like you just got out of jail”? That would be dark circles from raising you. LOL What kind of concealer do you use? I think I need something stronger than “Bisque” .

  14. says

    I had this same problem with my mama’s lemon cake, which I make in a Bundt pan. My sister told me to use Baker’s Joy spray instead of Pam, and that solved the problem. Which do you use? I was shocked that it works so well; no failures in the last year, and I bake a lot. My daughter’s birthday cake looked like your cinnamon cake last year! Baker’s Joy really worked for me. Try it (if you haven’t already) before buying a new pan. Sorry if this sounds like a commercial.

  15. becca says

    it’s not you – it’s the cake mix! There is 10% less in the packages now, and it’s messing up all our recipes!

  16. says

    Just chili and cheese on bread? I’ve had a chili cheeseburger, but not a sandwich. I only buy Wolf chili so I could do that. Maybe.

  17. says

    My mom always made sock-it-to-me cakes in a tube pan (like a bundt pan but no rounded top). Don’t know if that will make any difference. Also, I use Baker’s Joy to spray on all my pans when baking (instead of greasing/flouring pan) and everything just pops right out. I didn’t read through all the comments so someone may have already suggested that. Good luck!

  18. Alyson says

    “Never mind. You just have old people eye.” That is one of the funniest things I have ever heard. Caroline is a doggone trip!

  19. Jenny says

    I had the same bundt pan problem. I got this fancy William Sanoma pan for a wedding gift 9 years ago and I really should sell the thing because it’s horrible. When my grandma passed away the family put all her kitchen contents out on tables in her house so everyone could pick what they wanted. I snatched up that mustard yellow pan with the color warn off the edges from where she tapped on the bottom with a butter knife so the cake would fall out on the serving piece. Theat bundt pan in soo thin but works the best of any other, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

  20. Nancy R says

    I see several comments about the size of the cake mix, and I wanted to add my two cents. I have heard that the store brand boxes are still at the “old” size. Might be worth looking into before you buy a new pan, or open a second box of mix to make up the difference. D

  21. Kim M. says

    A couple things.

    1) use NordicWare bundt pans. I have found they are the best. I HATE the stoneware ones from Pampered Chef because I have never had good results with those types of bundt pans. Walmart sells NordicWare– easy and not that pricey.

    2) Grease the pan with shortening. I used to have issues with my cakes sticking and it drove me bonkers until I asked my MawMaw what she used. She said not to use “that PAM crap” and grease with shortening. What do you know? It worked. I’ve never had problems since.

    Have fun experimenting til you get it just right!

    • Marie M.C. says

      I’ve always, my entire life used real butter to grease pans. Lots of butter. Sometimes I would stick on some parchment paper — which won’t work on buntd pans. It does make a difference WHEN you take it out. The problem is some cakes need to be removed 5-10 minutes after taking from the oven. I think (????) I wait longer for the bund (my spellcheck won’t allow the correct spelling. Grrrr.) I have a thin, cheap pan bunt I’ve used for more than thirty years.

  22. Marie M.C. says

    I just checked the Duncan Hines website for this recipe. Several commenters said the cake mix had been reduced by 2 oz. which caused problems for them, too. ???? No idea how to fix it. Someone needs to call the Duncan Hines President and get to the bottom of this. I always start at the top when trying to call a company. Sometimes it even works. Caroline has the world’s best father. She is so blessed. P — want to adopt me? I’m 69 and no longer ride a bike or shot moose, but I’m sure we could hang out and find something to do together!

  23. Kimberly/OKC says

    Been meaning to tell you that I LOVED your book!! I took one day, here and there, to read it and when my 16 year old daughter came home from school, I told her I just had the BEST day! Because I laughed my head off all day!! But first the sad part…I loved your line, “Pain, it hits you in the middle of the night when things are quiet and it whispers that it may never go away.” Grief pain. You nailed it and anyone who has gone through a sadness like a miscarriage or even a death can relate. The pain is actually physical, isn’t it. The whole potty training chapter was so funny. “Let’s not take people who still poop in their pants too seriously.” HAHAAHA But then the Nitpicking chapter…I had to put the book down like 5-6 times to laugh and wipe my eyes!! So thanks for a great book and a really good day. “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine” and I needed that medicine. We all do. If it means anything to you, and I bet it does, you have touched us all with the life lessons you shared and the humor you put forth in the way you live and love your husband and raise your daughter. Thanks for the inspiration…sometimes that all you need to push through this crazy life!!!

  24. Jenny R says

    Did you try greasing and flouring it? My bundt pan cakes always seem to be so fickle about coming out of the pan and need both of them. And extra fickle ones won’t let me use Baker’s Joy (supposedly grease and flour in one can of spray) and I have to get extra down and dirty to use actual Crisco and flour.

  25. Noelle says

    Buy a silicon bundt cake pan. Ten dollars are so and I purchased mine at target. No need to grease and flour the pan and it comes out with ease.

  26. says

    I LOVE that she said “hakuna matata” and thought it was in the Bible! :) But it does pretty much cover it, so maybe it was in the original Greek after all! :) I see she’s still on the running shorts kick! Sorry I can’t give you any culinary advice. I don’t cook. I limit myself to cereal, PB&J, and microwave stuff. Good luck! :)

  27. Maria D. says

    No school bike rodeo for me…attended a religious grade school and well that just wasn’t a thing they did…

    As far as the bundt cake…well I love bundt cake but haven’t made one in a while…hope you get your cake woes resolved – I myself am trying to locate a recipe for the Starbucks reduced fat Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake…

  28. says

    I live and die by the gospel of Pumba. My kids know that either that or “awesome possum” will come out of my mouth at least once or 5 times each day. Forget about Nanny’s cinnamon bundt cake recipe – how ’bout that Frito Pie recipe????

  29. Clara says

    I saw that someone else mentioned it – but also wanted to put in my 2 cents for NordicWare bundt pans. Absolutely the best! Can be found online, and likely at Target, Walmart, etc.

  30. Jeanie says

    That cake still looks delicious to me. Now, can someone tell me why my lasagna has been so awful the last several times I’ve made it? I used to make outstanding lasagna and have no clue what I’m doing wrong. The pasta sauce I used apparently was discontinued, but I don’t think that’s the problem.

  31. says

    GIRL. Magic Goop. That’s all you need. (Mix equal parts crisco, flour and oil. Store it in a jar in the cupboard. Use a pastry brush to butter up your bundt pan before you bake your cake. NOTHING sticks to this stuff. Even those froofy little bunny and lamb molds at Easter time. Bakers Joy is better than Pam…and this is even better than Bakers Joy.)

    Good luck!!

  32. Laura says

    You know, this reminds me of one of my favorite bundt cakes that I have been making for a really long time and the last two times I made it, it did not turn out well. I don’t think your problem is the bundt pan (as it’s not mine either). I bet it’s the mix that no longer has the same amount as it used to. Companies are saying they are just shrinking the packaging down to cut down on cost but I bet they are shrinking the volume inside those said packages and think we don’t notice the difference. Um, yes we do. In the size of the cakes that are turning out.

  33. says

    Thanks once again for the belly laughs:)
    We had a round table discussion Monday night with some ladies from my Sunday School Class, which was quite funny in itself, so I have shared this, as well as telling them each to GO BUY YOUR BOOK N.O.W.:)
    Blessings always,
    PS I know you want to stick to this recipe, but there is a Cinnamon Roll Cake Recipe on Pinterest that is to die for if you ever decide to try another recipe!! And it bakes in a 9 x 13 pan!

  34. Wendy T in Indiana says

    Grew up in MN and IN and have never heard of a bike rodeo/festival in either state. Is this during the school day? I KNOW it wouldn’t happen here now because it’s not part of the education standards and it certainly isn’t on the test! Can’t help you with the cake problem, other than to say you could take Caroline’s hakuna matata advice!

  35. says

    I love the attitude and outlook…we try to teach our kids all we can, but it seems then always end up teaching us the most! Hakuna Matata…made me smile…and laugh out loud, as that is my son’s favorite song to sing while he is sitting on the potty. Oh, the joys our kids bring us. :)

  36. says

    Melanie! Do you know Shay is the bundt cake queen? She started her food blog all because of a bundt cake….to date she has mixed and matched the same recipe to make over 50 bundt cakes!

  37. Pam Means says

    FYI — I read your book today. In ONE day. I would have read it in one sitting except the people behind me at the stop light would’ve gotten mad. I feel refreshed after reading it! LOVED it!!!

  38. Lisa D. says

    The gospel of Pumba made me snort my coffee!

    You know, as I was reading your book I remembered comments about folks crying and laughing and I was mainly in the laughing camp… . until I finished it and then had myself a big old cry! I think it’s because my girl is going to be a teenager in May and I was thinking about her leading me “down the hall” for so many things recently. Thank you for writing what is in the hearts of mamas all over the place! :)

  39. says

    My mom used her bundt pan to make an ice ring once and ended up having to throw it away. Don’t know if you’ve been making ice rings, but… Well it was just a thought.
    That cake looked delicious even with the chunks missing. Maybe that’s just the PMS talking. :)

  40. Jessica says

    We love that cake around here, too. The first time my husband asked for a Sock it to Me cake, I punched him in the gut. True story. :)

  41. Jess from Jersey says

    Pretty sure I bought myself that exact same bike. And I’m a 29 year old woman (who just happens to have stopped growing in the 7th grade!).

    (I would check but when I went to pick it up from Toys R Us there was a rip in the seat and they wouldn’t give me a discount so I just got a refund)