Chocolate Mud Cake Commotion

18 May

If you’re looking for one of those perfect mummy blogs with the equally flawless homemade cake recipe –  you’ve landed in the wrong place.

In fact, dear reader, you might as well click that little crisscross button on the top right of your screen.

Before we delve into this episode, there is a background.

Cakes, muffins, cookies – any type of baking foods – was not something I grew up with.

My Indonesian mum is a top notch cook…of Indonesian cuisine, of course.  But a baker, she ain’t.

I didn’t grow up knowing how a cake was supposed to rise or how to blend cake batter.  Even as a young adult, I still didn’t have an interest.

However, I can say this:  The fixation on learning how to bake…derived the moment I started having a family.

Over a short course of a week, three unrelenting attempts were made.

Monday night:

After my frisbee cake fiasco, I was adamant to give the “No-Egg” product another whirl.

As advised by a vegan friend who was familiar with the egg replacer, I decided to make a cake from scratch, using a recipe that another friend promised me was fool-proof.

Yes, but was it oven-phobic Mama Grace proof ?

After much preparation and reading through the recipe thoroughly, there was momentum.

I was mixing.  I was blending.  I was in the zone.

The kitchen and the baker were both humming along nicely.

Then, finally, the crucial moment…

I thought it looked alright.

Had it risen ?  Check.

Did it smell like a cake ?  Check.

Most importantly, did it look like a cake ?  Checkity check check.

I even did that skewer test thing and – to me – the skewer seemed to come out clean as a whistle.  So I thought.

Excited and thrilled with the result, I called on Hubby to come over to try a piece.

I thought I’d cut him a slither to surprise him.  As I did, this happened:

Wednesday night:

I was in a “Bake or Die” fatalistic mode.  The self-determination to see a cake creation of my own was at its peak.

But somehow, this second attempt  was even worse.  I won’t even begin to go into the sordid detail.

Suffice to say, it rose.  It fell.  Then it was burnt.  With the middle completely doughy.

The sheer frustration even got the better of Hubby who started scouring the internet for answers and would type into Google questions like:

“Why doesn’t ‘No Egg’ work when baking cakes ?”

I couldn’t for the life of me figure it out, because the instructions of the packet couldn’t have been written any clearer than a cloudless blue sky:

“One Egg is equivalent to one teaspoon of No Egg with two tablespoons of water”

So, what was I doing wrong ???  Why wasn’t the cake binding ???

Finally, I found the answer on Amazon.com’s product reviews.

One consumer wrote:

“You need to double your ‘No Egg’ portion to two teaspoons.  Then mix with warm water.  Make sure you whisk for at least three minutes until foamy.”

Right.  Why didn’t anyone tell me that ?

It felt like that scene in ‘Friends’ where Ross finds out Rachel is pregnant with his baby, but doesn’t understand how it happened because they used ‘protection’.  Then, Rachel hits him with the harsh truth and reveals that condoms only work 97% of the time.

“They should say that on the box !!!”

My sentiments exactly.

Image taken from 'Wikia'

Thursday night:

Hubby couldn’t believe that I was going to give it yet, another try.  Well, actually he could.  He has witnessed me crazed up and obsessed with other projects in the past.

Over the years, he has learnt to stand back.  Otherwise, he gets his head bitten off.

This time I was even more particular with the process.  I mixed the batter a little longer.  I took more care in melting the butter and mixing it with the cocoa.

I doubled my “No Egg” portion and made sure I whisked it until my wrist was sore.

I waited anxiously – checking every 20 minutes.  I patted the oven a couple of times.  Told it I desperately wanted to be friends and to be nice to me.

Then, I realised that my oven’s heat doesn’t circulate properly.  It sits at the back.

I discovered that the front of the cake wasn’t cooking through and the back ?  It was starting to burn.

I was ready to pack it in.  I was sick of having my rubbish bin filling up with mushy, half baked chocolate dough.  The kitchen was in a constant array of cocoa powder, flour, sprinkles of sugar and chunks of butter.

But somehow, I perservered.  And although, it wasn’t the most ideal, for the most part, it worked out.

I discovered that cake can be like people.

Flaws exist, but can be covered.  Bless chocolate frosting.

So, to summarise, here’s what my humble little Chocolate Mud Cake taught me…

One cup of butter, two cups of sugar and a pinch of patience:

I was in such a rush to get to the end result.  Frantic even.  I forgot that the biggest ingredient missing was patience.

With anything new and unknown, it was better just to take things slow.  To take time and thought in what I was doing.

Remembering that as the cake needed time to cool down before I could frost it, so did my temper.

There is always a solution.

Despite a crappy old oven and the obstacle of having to bake without egg, with a bit of research, talking to friends, scouring the internet, you can somehow work it out.  Eventually.

Working the oven.  Make it my friend.

Ovens, I have decided, are as individual as people.

Some only blow heat from behind.

Some seem to spread their heat quite evenly.

I discovered that you treat an oven like you would a relationship .  Whatever type of implement you’re stuck with, you gotta know your oven.

Give it the right amount of maintenance, check up on it once in a while to see if everything’s okay.  Sometimes it needs more attention than other days.  It will have flaws but you will somehow work around those.

Making the most of what it can offer.

P.S  Like Ross and his condom company, I plan to write a complaint letter to the company of  ‘No Egg’…

The official cake testers having the final say...

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One Response to “Chocolate Mud Cake Commotion”

  1. Deb Wild Hope June 17, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    This is a hilarious post, Grace! I hope you don’t mind me laughing along… I admire your persistence with trying to bake! And it must be my partial Indo upbringing too, because a baker I am not! (Since our years in Indo my mum has cooked excellent Indo cuisine, and she bakes well too, but the baking bit was not passed down to me!).

    Can I say that it look delicious, and I’m sure your boys enjoyed it! (And I loved the Ross/condom company analogy too). 🙂

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