Nov 21, 2009

we're all mad here

A house party happened. With an Alice in Wonderland theme. With dressing-up and G&T in oversized tea cups and Jefferson Airplane. Parties require cake, this one especially: a cake that says "Eat me". Two hours before the guests were due, I was still fiddling with suitably rabbit hole-related audio-visual effects, and others were deeply immersed in costume creation. This was the point where the White Rabbit would say "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late." So I created a cake.

Now, before we start, a confession: I've never done cake before. There was one very runny attempt at chocolate fondant, I have assisted on occasion, but nothing I can call my own. First on the list: cupcakes. Because they're pretty. And their size makes them somehow less threatening. The dark ones here caught my eye. So, in rush, I scrolled down to the recipe, mixed an obscene amount of cocoa with butter, sugar, milk, etc. No flour? Hmm. Maybe it's just really, really dark - I like that. No baking powder? Weird. Maybe I should add a bit. Just to be safe. Maybe there's a mistake in the recipe? Anyway, onwards - into to the cases, and into the oven.

Waiting. Nervously. 15 minutes later everything was really liquid. And not rising. Curiouser and curiouser! Another five, then it was boiling over. I gave up, took it out, placed it to one side. It would be so nice if something made sense for a change. Looked at the recipe again. A long, slow look. The kind of look that revealed I'd just been baking my icing. And it had resulted in a dark, toffee-like mess.

Plan B. Actually, Cake B, now upgraded to Cake A. Something plain, simple, yet elegant. arcadia, whose sense of cake I tend to trust, suggested this one from Smitten Kitchen. Sift the flour. Greet the early people. Pretend the kitchen is usually filled with the smell of caramelised icing sugar and that I enjoy moving at the speed of sound. Mix the other dry ingredients. Butter and sugar goes into a separate bowl, beaten until white and creamy. One egg, followed by another. The second one was odd. It changed the smell of the kitchen, significantly. After a moment's hesitation, I threw it out. (It is very provoking to be called an egg - very!)

More deep breathing. The bottle said "Drink me", so I poured some wine. I started again. Third time lucky? New butter, sugar, eggs. Mix in the flour, gently. This time it felt just right. And it came out beautifully. Light, moist and delicate. A definite success. An early guest was kind enough to take care of the decoration.

The cake disappeared quickly, leaving just a smile.


Marie said...

What an amazing story.

Deursettingsvermoe. You have the quality whose absence my father mourned in his children.

I would have thrown several tantrums by this point.

Sounds like an excellent party.

arcadia said...

ek is mal oor hierdie storie.

(en ek moet jou dalk herinner aan wat s gese het oor jou deursettingsvermoe)

wil steeds die smitten kitchen-koek probeer. dit lyk heerlik.