I can’t bake.
I like cooking but I don’t bake cakes, biscuits, slices or anything sweet apart from Pavlova and especially nothing involving pastry.
I’m frightened of pastry.
I can make packet cakes if they are just the ones where you add a couple of eggs and some oil and especially when they even include the cupcake things so I don’t need to use a proper tin because I only have the ones that I inherited when I married Rob and he can’t even cook so it’s a mystery where they come from.
I’ve only ever made one kids birthday cake and it took me two attempts and after that I swore I’d buy Marks and Spencer ready-made cakes from there on. My Facebook photo album is a great catalog of what M&S offer in the way of kids birthday cakes if you’re interested. I should be getting a fee from them in advertising.
So today I had someone coming over after lunch so I decided to go and buy cake ingredients. When I say ingredients I mean a Donna Hay chocolate cake mix in a box.
However when I got to the supermarket my inner Martha decided that given I had about three hours to kill and two sick kids I had nothing better to do but make a proper cake.
FROM SCRATCH. I really do not know what came over me.
So as I stood in the cake section of Coles I googled a cake recipe and came up with ‘Women’s Weekly Family Chocolate Cake’.
I bought all the ingredients and even got all adventurous and bought some new cake tins. I ended up spending about $70 on all the crap you need and questioned why the hell I would do that and not buy Donna’s box of cake wonder for $8 but figured idiots make cakes so why couldn’t I?
When I got home I lay all the ingredients out and got to work. I thought when you made a cake you just mixed all the ingredients together and chucked it in the oven but apparently not. The WW recipe called for cooking all the liquids and butter and sugar in a saucepan and then cooling it before you pour it into the egg and flour you’ve mixed separately.
So I decided to multi task and make myself some salad while the liquidy stuff cooked.
Big mistake. BIG mistake.
Now just in case you are wondering, you should never cook loads of sugar in water and butter and cocoa and then leave it because is boils over very very quickly. Turn your back and check your Facebook and eat lunch for five minutes and you have enough brown sticky hot goo that fills up the stove top and leaks onto the bench to sink a ship.
In hindsight I wish I’d taken a photo but this will have to do. I don’t think I’m ever going to get it off, it’s like molten lava and it’s really bad on two of the burners because it was too hard a task to clean completely as I planned on leaving it for the cleaner tomorrow, forgetting I’d have to cook dinner tonight. So I’ve since made spaghetti and the two burners I used for that have sealed the molten lava on nice and thick. Idiot.
Once I’d used my entire draw of tea towels to clean it up (note: they don’t work, use paper towel in future) I realised now I’d have the wrong ratio of liquid to add to the flour and egg. So before I mixed that up I took about a cup of it out.
Now on the weekend I made a Pavlova and obviously I instagrammed the occasion because it is so rare that I would get my beloved KitchenAid out. The $800 appliance that I use to whip cream and egg whites and twice I made pizza dough in it. Anyway a few foodie types commented on my photo saying they used their KitchenAid to make cakes so I figured I would too.
So I put the flour and egg in the Kitchen aid and mixed it up.
I don’t think I was supposed to do that.
It looked like flour bullets and was so stiff the motor on the Kitchen Aid started to sound unwell. So in my chef wisdom I added another egg.
Another big mistake.
As I sat there wondering wtf I was doing and cursing that I’d bothered coming this far, I looked at the clock and realised my guest would be there in an hour.
She wasn’t going to get cake.
Now the recipe then said to cool the liquid and then add it all together. I thought that was stupid and that maybe the hot liquid might soften the bullet flour so I poured the steaming lot into the KitchenAid and turned it on.
It was by far the biggest of all the mistakes I’d made so far. A tidal wave of molten chocolate bullety shit EVERYWHERE.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, I learnt the hard way that when you pour hot liquid into a KitchenAid jug that is made from stainless steel, it swells and makes it impossible to remove the jug from the stand. So I carried the entire appliance which weighs about 250kg (surely?) over to the sink and poured it out that way, ensuring the hot goo covered the entire head and motor of the KitchenAid which I’ve since cleaned but am not brave enough to plug it in and see if it still works.
Then I was stuck with a sink of bullety flour hot chocolate mess.
Which took me 25 minutes to stuff down the drain with a chopstick.
So the moral of the story aside from my oath that I will never attempt another cake as long as I live .. is that if I ever invite you over for afternoon tea you are most likely to end up with ….
And that’s what my lovely afternoon tea guest had.