Sunday, 1 February 2009
Chocolate Lessons in Life
You know how we all have those kitchen disasters: the fruitcake so burned on the edges that you have to slice an inch off all round; the chicken which disintegrates into stringy pieces as you lift it, rather than gracing your fork with a tender, juicy morsel; the soggy quiche: the boot sole tough steak; the flabby pavlova; the lumpy gravy; the overly thin custard?
We all have them. We live with them and learn from them. We curse with frustration the phone call that took our attention away or the new oven with unfamiliar quirks; but every now and again there is a kitchen disaster so explosive, so overwhelmingly wrong that you can do nothing but laugh hysterically.
A week ago we had that disaster.
It was my Middle Sis' birthday on Sunday and her loving niece decided to cook her a birthday cake on the Saturday night. The recipe was selected, a new one, for chocolate mudcake. The ingredients were weighed out and, together, aunt and niece communed in the kitchen; melting, stirring, blending and mixing.
To be fair, aunt had come in half way through when all ingredients were out and measured. She'd come in to help out when the Baby Angel realised that the chocolate and butter mixture was meant to be divided in half before you melted it together. No drama though, Middle Sis competently assisted in estimating half the mixture and added elbow grease for the laborious task of stirring it into the dry ingredients.
A very laborious task as it turned out. I had to come in and lend a hand eventually. Gee, our shoulders just aren't what they used to be. Still, a little more of the melted chocolate mixture and everything seemed to be combining nicely. We helped her pour the batter into the cake tin, lined conscientiously with baking paper, and licked our fingers.
Hmm. That was an unusual taste.
Into the oven it went. Fifteen minutes into the 90 minute cooking time I sensed something was wrong as I passed the oven. Grabbing a sneak peek, I was confronted by a chocolate cascade! Cake mix was exploding over the edges of the pan and heaping upon itself on the bottom of the oven!!!! Damn! The pan was obviously not big enough! Why didn't they specify?????
I scraped the mounting pile of half cooked cake off the bottom of the oven and closed the door. Oh well, at least what was left would be ok with a trim and some icing.
An hour later we went back to investigate.
This wasn't looking good.
I broke off a stalactite from the side of the pan thinking, well, this should be lovely and chewy....
What the h*** was that flavour?????
"Don't worry," Middle Sis chirped cheerfully,"I'm sure the middle will be fine."
"Er... I'm not sure...I had a little taste before and...."
"Don't be silly....!" undeterred she cut a square from the centre. It was about 1/16th of an inch thick.
"Mmm, looks fine!" she smiled optimistically as she popped it in her mouth.
I am sure you can imagine how rapidly her face changed.
"yuueah, wo' i' i' thi'?"
('yuck, what is in this?': spoken with a mouth full of really unpleasant cake)
I scanned the list of ingredients quickly.
"BA? How much bi-carb did you put in this cake?"
She looked bewildered for a moment,
"Well, I just put in what it said..."
"It says half a teaspoon BA....", the dawn of realisation was spectacular to behold.
"OMG. I put in half a..."
"CUP?????" my sister and I chorused together.
When we had all finished laughing she made another cake. That one was lovely; and this morning as a farewell to Middle Sis (sniff sniff) she made a Moist Chocolate Dessert Cake for her.
It was sensational.
Live and learn eh?