It was a dark stormy night in hell when I first decided I’d enter the kitchen to bake a cake.
Actually, no. Let’s rewind a little. As a part of my undergraduate course, I was required to select a non-major elective. Time pass wala stuff basically- we didn’t have a final exam or a grading system based on this particular elective. So this meant cool things like online trading, arts and crafts, painting, fabric printing, entrepreneurship, and of course baking and icing. I’d get home at 7 every day after these tiresome classes that usually involved us watching on while our teacher explained to us the nuances of baking, and shortly after, the hungry group of 40 odd girls would fight for samples of cooking that were handed out. This involved all sorts of deliciousness- like red velvet pastry, cheesecake, chocolate ganache icing and even things like marinated panneer that would melt in your mouth while simultaneously setting your tongue on fire.
It was all going so so well.
Our teacher would dictate ingredients and measurements while we wrote them down in a notebook. It all seemed easy enough.
I first stepped into the alien land of deliciousness, where my mom (and sometimes sister and rarely, dad) ruled over with an steel spatula and a magic hand of deliciousness. You had every possible [vegetarian] delight to the senses emanating from this land, right from the smell of melting ghee to the sizzle of mustard seeds, to the spicy scent of schezwan chutney and chinese style pulao dishes.
I looked around cautiously, half expecting something to spontaneously combust at my very touch. When I determined that all was safe, I proceeded to pick my favourite cup and tumbler to measure out the ingredients with.
Foodie tip #1- Equipment matters!
Baking is a really really precise science. You need everything to be perfectly measured if you don’t want your cake to turn out tasting horrible.
The recipe called for 2 cups of flour. I suddenly realised that I had only one cup and a little more left.
Foodie tip #2 – Always check if you actually have the ingredients that your recipe calls for before embarking on your culinary adventure.
“Eh. What’s the worst that could happen?” I thought to myself as I dumped a cup of corn flour in to compensate.
Foodie tip #3- NEVER replace one ingredient with another. There is NO excuse for this. None. At all.
You’ll find various food blogs and experienced chefs who tell you its completely alright to substitute one ingredient for another. But when I’ve tried this, it has ended in nothing but disaster. And weird after tastes in my mouth.
I then proceeded to approximately mix all the ingredients together and mix with a wooden spoon lying around. Because who actually needs a whisk for the ingredients to mix well together?
But you know what was funny? The mix didn’t even look like batter. I’m not that dumb, hey, I know that the batter has to be liquid. That’s when cross checking the recipe helped me realise that I had forgotten to add the milk.
So, after a whole lot of sweat and sore arm muscles from beating that damn near impossible cake batter, I finally came up with a batter that was a rather stubborn liquid… but liquid. Yes! Success!!
Little did I know that my battle had only just begun.
|We have ALL been this dog at some point in our culinary lives
I started looking for something to actually make the cake in. I didn’t own a cake tin- or any baking equipment for that matter because I’m the first in my family to take a walk on the wild side. So I ended up putting the batter in a cooker tin. (the same ones that you use to make dal)
Since I didn’t own an Oven Toaster Griller (OTG), I ended up putting the cake into a cooker. Which is not unheard of, but you need to know Foodie tip #4- if you’re baking with a cooker, look for cooker recipes. Search for recipes according to the medium you actually own.
I put the cooker tin with the batter in the cooker assuming it would take the same time as an OTG to bake.
I’m going to go back to Tip #1 because I cannot stress on it enough. Equipment matters!
*Ignores a 13 year old giggling somewhere*
nearly 30 minutes later, my cake looked baked, but when I pushed a knife in it to check, the knife had both uncooked cake bits and cake batter itself sticking to it when it came out.
45 minutes later, I could faintly smell something burning. I consulted with Mom who advised me to switch off the stove and get it out ASAP. I heeded her worldly wise advice and the end result was something I will never forget all my life.
When I inverted the cooker tin, not only had the base of the cake burnt, but it was stuck to the bottom of the cooker tin. I cut the base off to check if any other part of the cake was edible. There were still bits of batter here and there (Damn that stubborn liquid!) and some parts appeared somewhat edible.
I stared hopelessly at the cake. My mom took one look at my face and burst out laughing. This was the first time in my life that I had tried my hand at something and failed so astonishingly. I cut out cautious pieces of the cake and attempted to eat it and blanched. Mom had an equally pained expression on her face as she gave me a brave smile. There was no substance on the planet that tasted less like a cake.
Another round of laughter ensued and mom told me not to give up. I took her advice and strangely, I actually got better at it eventually. The saying “try and try till you succeed” actually worked. A couple of failed attempts later, I actually learnt enough to make delicious chocolate cake that melts in your mouth. Cake that would disappear from the box within seconds of me opening it in college. It was nothing but positive feedback from there, but my mom and I still laugh over that very first cake that I attempted to make and all the dumb mistakes that went into ruining it.
So here’s to one of the yummier tasting cakes I’ve baked
|Chocolate cake with chocolate ganache… God it was delicious