What do you think when you hear the three words: Flour, butter and whisk? Well certainly ‘Cake’. What did I think when I heard these words: waste of time.
Being a baker wasn’t always a word in my dictionary. I found baking a waste of time when there were a plethora of choices in the stores. I remember as a young girl, I would see my mother with earnest intent removing her pots and pans from the rack to reveal her baking bowl from behind, eyes brightly shining up to the view, putting it down carefully on the work top and getting ready to get her hands dirty. She would then take out the ingredients one by one: flour, butter/oil, sugar, vanilla, ‘the whisk’, and finally a war cry, ‘today is cake day’! I wondered what was so mystical about this that would make my mom, an otherwise earthly being, transform into a creepy, out of the world anthropoid the moment she saw her ‘baking bowl’. I wondered what was so indulging in ‘baking a cake’! Whether it was a birthday celebration, or a night before travel, baking always transformed my mom. And I wondered!!
Often my mom would be whining and reiterating as to why I do not sit down, and learn the ‘art of baking a cake’. I would in turn yell, like any other teenager, ‘I have better things to do than bake a cake Mom’!!What better things, well that is a separate topic of discussion, altogether. She would say that one day I would be having kids and if they wanted to eat some home baked cakes then what would I do? I said, ‘who cares’…
I remember the first time I attempted in testing my baking skills, I promptly went to the baking store, got myself a premixed cake mixture and walked home feeling accomplished. Reaching home I enthusiastically took out ‘My Baking Bowl’ and sat down to mix. We had recently got a convection microwave and I thought what better way to test the feature than 'Bake a cake'! It isn’t that difficult after all, is it!! So I gave the mixture a good mix in the blender, poured some milk into it, added some chocolate chips and Voila!! My cake batter was ready to go into the oven!! I had followed the ‘method of preparation’ on the carton quite diligently. No room for any mistakes. So off to the next step; greased the pan, smeared it with streaks of butter, and dusted it with some flour. Then I poured in the batter into the pan, with a slight hesitation of whether the batter was right as it was a bit too runny. But soon I fanned away my fears and gave myself an invisible pat on my back for this accomplishment, and placed the pan inside the oven. Temperature set, time noted, a job well done!!!
My cake had been baking for almost 30 min when I emerged from behind a book to inspect on the progress. It was a moment of truth, my moment of truth. Moment that would put all fears of my mom, to rest. Moment that would hereby prove that I am not a lousy baker after all.
Even before I entered the living room I could smell something burning. And since there wasn’t anything cooking apart from the cake, it was quite obvious what was. The living room was filled with smoke. I quickly turned off the microwave, and waited patiently for the heat to subside so that I could further on the inspection and introspect what could have possibly gone wrong with my batter, and my cake!! I did everything by the book, then, what possibly could have gone wrong? As I removed the pan from the oven, the room was again filled with smoke. I slowly took out the baking tray and all that I saw was a black, burnt, mass. Cake!!Not even near it!! The living room smelled of burnt cake the entire week, and I proved a lousy baker. However, I opined and it stayed, ‘cake from a store is much better than baking one’…Sigh!!!