Whenever my husband visits the great city of Boston (and me), I get these urges to cook something grand. Every time! Well, ok, not every time, but most of the times. Suddenly all my love for him starts brimming over and my heart tells me to cook something (nice) for hubbie dear.. though my mind warns me against it. (I think I have remained sane and happy because i have listened to my mind most of the times :D) So, over the weekend during his visit, I got an urge to bake a cake. Not the ready made cake mixes, dear people, but an actual cake, the real kind, with flour, eggs, a slab of butter and other unhealthy supplements. But determined I was, and hence decided to bake a chocolate cake! I have never baked a cake before (apart from the ready mixes of course), just for the records. But I thought to myself, 'how hard can it be?!!' It just involves measuring and mixing and beating and baking. But I soon realized that this was nothing short of an adventure. And not a pleasant one. The only thing that kept me going was seeing the happy face of hubbie dear as he took a bite of my delicious cake !! :D (I don't remember his reaction when he actually ate the cake.. I really don't!!)
Anyways, with cooking made easy with scores of online recipes and videos, I chose a recipe that had the most awesome looking cake. ahh...im drooling already. Again. So, I gathered everything I needed but at the last moment realized I didn't have any measuring cups/spoons. And I decided to use 'estimation' to remedy this. Turned out it wasn't a good idea after all! Though I finally managed to get the 'cup' measurements correct (found an old shaker that had it marked) I approximated the teaspoon/tablespoon measurements. Though nothing went wrong catastrophically in the end product, I think I ended up adding more baking soda than required. And a little less sugar than it asked for. Anyways, once I got the things measured, then came the daunting task of "beating" the mixture. An electric beater might have made this whole process a 'cake walk' , but i just had the hand whisk at home, and had to use it. The first 3-4 minutes of beating the butter and sugar was actually fun. I was all excited to see it become nice and fluffy (just as the recipe said). But I was supposed to keep beating it for 10 minutes, and after the first 5 minutes, things started getting hard. The 10 minute beating session soon turned out to be a short gym session when I do my arm strength training (which has been off for about 2 months).
But the sunny positive person that I am, I decided to concentrate on how much workout my arms were getting and how nicely toned they were getting (true or not , I don't care. But that's what I kept telling myself) The beating/workout did not stop here. After that, I had to put in 3 eggs and beat them up. (easy). Once that was done, I had to add some of the dry mix (flour + wrongly measured baking soda) to it and keep beating. The mixture had turned nice and think and my arms were sweating it out. I put the rest of the dry mixture in it to torture my arms some more. (mission was accomplished, if you are wondering). Then the remaining ingredients followed, making the batter easy to work with. Once I got it at the desired consistency, my joy knew no bounds. I was happy maybe because of the adrenaline rush you get after a workout? Anyways, the last step turned out to be my favorite, pouring the batter in baking trays and chucking them in the oven!! Voila!!
I was indeed very happy and hopeful after seeing my cake rise beautifully in the oven. And my apartment smelled great!! It was a smell I associate with my childhood. My mom used to bake birthday cake for us when we were kids, and the house would smell of vanilla and chocolate and orange! *drooling*
You might be thinking reading the post that my cake was a disaster, but it actually was not. It wasn't a success either. It was just on the border. I am not quite sure what went wrong with it. The look and texture and color was perfect, but I knew I had screwed up the taste with my wrong measurements. Even the taste was not disastrously wrong, but it was not perfect.
Things learnt in this expedition (and will keep in mind if i ever bake a cake again):
1) use measuring cups/spoons.
2) Don't try to make the cake healthy (unless you are an expert cook and know how to make it both healthy and tasty). I cut back on the butter and sugar (responsible for the lackluster taste)
3) ALWAYS use electric beater. Unless you regularly go to the gym (and don't bunk it for 2 months like me) and your arms cooperate.
4) Be patient for the cake to cool down and then cut it properly. *Never* take a spoon and scoop off a bite from the center just because you are impatient to see the results of your hard work!! Not only it is bad manners, but you are also at risk of burning your tongue.
On a parting note, I have decided to find other channels to express my happiness when hubbie visits.. something other than cooking grand dishes.