Procrastination in baking can create some turkeys

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My name is Tammy, and I am a bakecrastinator.

There. I said it. That ugly word is out there, and now you know all my deep, dark, chocolate-y secrets.

You see, I love to bake. But I also love to put things off to the last minute. Perhaps it is part of my risk-taking nature, in which I like to see if there's a way to make quick bread into mercurial bread.

But it doesn't always work. Good baking takes precision, planning and carefully curated ingredients. It does not benefit from a half-crazed baker lurching around the kitchen at 11 p.m. and wondering if a 3-year-old box of Milk Duds could be substituted for fine dark chocolate.

I don't know why I so love late-night baking. I have many fond memories of nocturnal bakeapaloozas, when I was the only person awake in the house, an old movie on TV played in the background to keep me company, and the nutmeg-laced aroma of sugar cookies wafted from the oven.

For some reason, I would be so absorbed in my stirring and icing that I wouldn't even get tired. Well, until it was time to do dishes. Then I would be hit by a fit of exhaustion so severe that I would have to immediately head to bed to collapse (grabbing a cookie first, of course).

These bake-and-runs keep me on my toes and almost always work out. I learn a lot from these pinch-hitting sessions, such as the fact that cottage cheese really will make a decent substitute for sour cream or that any dessert, regardless of how disastrous, can be instantly salvaged with real whipped cream.

I still have fond memories of the Thanksgiving cake I had planned to make for a company bake sale. I'd envisioned a fabulous homemade carrot cake, decorated with citrus cream-cheese icing and those little turkeys you fashion out of Fudge Stripe cookies and candy corn.

I might even pipe a clever slogan on it: "Gobble, gobble up this cake!"

But when B Day came, I was just so darned tired. That new Netflix series wasn't going to watch itself, and I still hadn't mastered the coffee game on Luminosity. Finally, I trudged into the kitchen, with the specter of the turkey cake pecking at my heels. I'd promised to bring something, so I had better follow through. Besides, I'd spent $75 on candy corn and Fudge Stripe Cookies, so I'd better make something.

A homemade carrot cake seemed ambitious at 11 at night. Perhaps I would make a box cake instead. And canned frosting should suffice. People would care more about how it looked than how it tasted.

Upon pulling the cake from the oven, I found it to be about as high as a Kleenex. What had happened here?!

I pulled the cake box out of the garbage. Hmmm. It's never a good sign when the Pillsbury Dough Boy is wearing a powder-blue leisure suit. Maybe expiration dates do mean something.

I decided to cut the very flat cake in half and pile one half atop the other.

The cake was now shoebox-sized, but a little lopsided. Maybe I could prop it up with a layer of Fudge Ripple Cookies.

The frosting process was a nightmare. The cake crumbled as I tried icing it. But I persisted, using two cans of frosting instead of one. Somehow, I spackled the whole mess together. It's amazing how many structural flaws you can disguise with bright-orange frosting trim and numerous chocolate turkeys.

When it was done, I stood back to gaze at it. Was this sleep deprivation or was this actually kind of ... cute?

It really was OK. On the outside at least, my turkey had become a swan.

Albeit one stuffed with Fudge Stripe Cookies, Mesozoic cake mix and desperation.

Readers can reach columnist Tammy Swift at tswiftsletten@gmail.com.