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The Surprise Birthday Cake

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Today was a very exciting day. Masha got up extra early just so she could get her chores done in time. It was Bear’s birthday, and Masha did not want to miss a thing!

“Oh, this will be a good good day, oh yes it will!” Masha sang as she cleaned her small house. It didn’t take her long at all to do the dusting and the sweeping and the washing. As soon as she was finished, Masha remembered that she hadn’t gotten a present for Bear.

“Oh dear,” said Masha as she tapped her chin with a finger. “I forgot Bear’s birthday gift!” Looking around her tiny bedroom, Masha wondered what she could give him. “Oh, I know!” she shouted. Darting to her desk, Masha took out her crayons and a sheet of brightly colored paper from a drawer. “I will make him a picture. It will be the best picture, and Bear will hang it on his wall!”

There was a flurry of coloring, cutting, and pasting. A little while later, a slightly worn but extremely happy Masha held up her creation and smiled. “Yes, Bear will surely want to put this where he will always see it!”

Satisfied, Masha carefully put the present into a large envelope and taped a bow to the front. She tied her scarf around her head, picked up the gift, and skipped out of the house and into the woods.

Soon, Masha arrived at Bear’s front door. Knocking politely, Masha called out, “Oh, Bear! Are you home?”

There was no answer.

Being a very curious child, Masha slowly pushed the large door open. “Bear?” she shouted. The house looked empty. “Hmmm, that is strange,” thought Masha. “Well, maybe I should go in and see if everything is tidy. It would be horrible if Bear wasn’t ready for his party.”

Masha tiptoed in and glanced about. There was no sign of Bear anywhere! Shrugging, Masha closed the front door behind her. She set her present for Bear on his huge overstuffed chair before making her way into the kitchen.

“That was a long walk, maybe I should have a snack before I dust,” she said to herself. Masha slid a chair next to the fridge and climbed onto it. Grunting, Masha tugged on the handle of the fridge, but it wouldn’t budge.

“Oh no!” cried Masha. “If the refrigerator door is stuck, how will we have birthday cake?” The thought of a birthday party without birthday cake was too upsetting.

“Oh, I know!” Masha exclaimed suddenly, hopping off of the chair and pushing it towards the counter. “I will make a new birthday cake! Bear will be so happy!”

Masha climbed back onto the chair and flipped through Bear’s cookbook until she found a recipe for cake. Checking the ingredients list, she rummaged through the kitchen cabinets looking for the things she needed.

“Bear is so messy!” Masha murmured as she searched for the ingredients. “Nothing is where it is supposed to be!”

Finally, she found all of the ingredients. After laying out all of her bowls and utensils, Masha read over the instructions once more. She then measured out the flour and the baking powder. When she turned to crack the eggs into another bowl, Masha accidentally knocked the flour bag onto the floor. It burst open and went everywhere!

“Not to worry, I will clean it up before Bear returns,” she said confidently before turning back to the eggs. Taking one of the large brown eggs, Masha gently tapped it on the edge of the bowl. The egg did not crack.

“Hmm,” thought Masha. “This is a tough shell, I will need to tap it harder!” She tapped it against the edge of the bowl again. It still did not crack.

“It is a good thing I am very strong,” said Masha. She tapped the egg for a third time on the edge of the bowl, this time with all of her strength. The egg cracked and fell into the bowl, shell and all. Masha wrinkled her nose at the mess before shrugging. “Oh well, I will just add nuts so no one will notice the crunchy eggshells!”

Masha picked up her wooden spoon and began breaking the eggshell into smaller pieces. Once she was happy with the size of the shell pieces, Masha added butter and sugar to the egg and began to stir wildly.

“If I stir faster, it won’t take as much time!” she thought while she added the flour and the baking powder to the wet ingredients. Flour began to fly out of the bowl as Masha stirred faster and faster. Finally, the ingredients started to look like cake batter. Unfortunately, some of the batter was splattered all over the counter and the cookbook! The batter was really sticky, so Masha didn’t realize the pages were sticking together when she returned to the recipe.

“This will be a very good cake indeed,” said Masha as she turned the page of the cookbook and read the next step.

“Hmm, now where does Bear keep his onions?” Masha wondered as she read the instructions. “Ooh, I know! They will be hanging in the pantry!”

It took several tries for Masha to take the onions off of their hook, but once she did, she cleaned, skinned, and chopped the onions until they were in tiny pieces. “Okay, now it says to add the onions to the rest of the ingredients and stir gently.” Masha carefully sprinkled the onions into the bowl and stirred them into the batter.

“Now it is time to bake Bear’s birthday cake!” Masha giggled excitedly. She poured the batter into a bundt pan. “Oh, and I mustn’t forget the nuts!” Looking around, Masha found a small bag of unshelled pecans next to the fridge. She selected twelve of the the biggest, most perfectly shaped unshelled pecans and arranged them in a pattern on top of the batter. “This will be a very tasty cake! Bear will like it very much!” Masha said happily as she put it into the oven. Setting the timer, she daintily wiped her hands on her apron. “Now I will clean Bear’s house and get it ready for the party!”

Skipping out of the kitchen, Masha began to rush about Bear’s home, straightening pictures, dusting books, and sweeping furballs under the rugs. As soon as she was done, the timer went off in the kitchen.

“Ah, the cake is ready!” exclaimed Masha. She ran into the kitchen and pulled the bundt pan from the oven using very thick mitts.

“Mmm, it smells delicious!” she sighed as she set it aside to cool.

“While I wait for it to cool, I will make icing for it!” Masha thought. She once again found the ingredients in Bear’s cookbook and began to make the icing. Once it was done, Masha tasted the icing.

“It isn’t that sweet,” she said. “Maybe I should add more honey!” Pulling the pot to her, Masha took a large spoon and scooped a mound of crystallized honey into the icing.

“Yes, this should make it sweeter!” Masha quickly mixed the honey into the icing and then tasted it again. Yes, it was now much sweeter! “This cake will be the best birthday cake Bear has ever eaten!” she hooted.

After removing the cake from the bundt pan, Masha gingerly spread the thick, sticky icing over the top of the cake. Smiling at all of her hard work, she wiped off her hands and surveyed the beautiful cake.

“There, now Bear will have a delicious birthday cake!” Masha was so excited about Bear eating the birthday cake that she didn’t realize what time it was.

“Oh, oh!” she cried as she looked at the clock. “Bear will surely be home any moment, and I am a mess!” Masha quickly washed her hands and removed her apron. “Hmm, I better go wait by the door for Bear,” she thought before skipping into the other room.
……..
A few minutes later, Bear came strolling up the trail with his fishing pole in one hand and a pail of fish in the other. He saw the smoke floating wispily out of the chimney and wondered if he had forgotten to put out the stove.

Setting his pole and pail on the front step, Bear opened the door. There, asleep in his chair, was a freshly-scrubbed Masha with an envelope in her lap. Smiling at his little friend, Bear wandered into the kitchen to check on the stove.

There was a surprise waiting for him!

Flour and cake batter covered almost every surface! Bear glared over his shoulder at Masha’s sleeping form, shook his head, and began to painstakingly clean up the kitchen.

It took a long while to clean up the mess.

Finally, Bear stopped and hung his washrag on the faucet to dry. The kitchen was once again spotless. Sighing heavily, he turned from the sink and was surprised to find a beautiful cake on the kitchen table. For all that she put him through, Masha could be really sweet and thoughtful sometimes!

Bear peeked back into the living room to check on Masha, and he felt a wave of relief when he saw that she was still asleep. Quietly retreating back into the kitchen, Bear heard a grumbly growling sound.

Goodness, it was Bear’s belly making that sound!

After a long day of fishing, Bear realized he hadn’t eaten anything since he had left earlier that morning. He glanced hungrily at the cake Masha had so lovingly baked for him.

It wouldn’t hurt to have just a tiny slice, Bear thought. It is my birthday cake, after all!

Taking out a bread knife from the butcher block on the counter, Bear cut himself a healthy slice and put it on a plate. He tiptoed quickly back to the door to check on Masha. She was still asleep.

Gleefully, Bear went back to his slice of cake. Taking a fork in his claws, he delicately stabbed the birthday treat and raised it up to his awaiting maw.

“Bear! Are you being naughty?” Masha exclaimed, looking at him accusingly.

Bear quickly dropped the fork onto the plate and hid the whole thing behind his back. He shook his head quickly.

Masha appeared quite suddenly on a chair at his elbow, keen eyes spying the cake tucked not quite out of sight. “That is a special surprise for you for your birthday! There is plenty for everyone, so please don’t be a greedy goblin.”

Bear shook his head again and, shamefaced, revealed the plate with the slice of cake and fork from behind his back.

Masha giggled in good humor. “Oh, it is alright, you silly Bear. It is your birthday, after all! You can eat your cake whenever you like!”

Sighing in relief, Bear grinned lopsidedly at Masha, and then took a big bite of his special surprise birthday cake.