When it comes to me being a cripple in some womanly skills, I always resort to the lines "I grew up with three brothers" somehow blaming my heritage for my 'unwomanly' ways. This last resort may work for my embarrassment with my lack of make-up skills (until about 14 months ago) and the battle with the high heels still on-going. But with cooking and baking, I cannot say I'm unskilled because I grew up with boys. In fact, growing up with boys should somehow make me more skilled because I'd be the one 'expected' to do all that. But sadly, I'm a bad cook and a worse baker.
I've often been told that no one will ever marry me because I'm such a bad cook. But somehow, my dad and my brothers are delighted with whatever I spin out in the kitchen last summer when I was home. Ah! Love! Who cares if a man never marries me because of my cooking (un)skills? I still have four men who finishes whatever I kept in the plate.
With baking, I, however, have no experience. My mother bought cakes rather than bake them and the only time I've ever helped bake a cake was when I was in college. We were baking a birthday cake for a girl in our hostel and all I did was beat the eggs. But a few months ago, a Mizo family (here in Delhi) I have as my own bought a new oven - bigger and better than their previous one. So with the thrill of the new toy, we decided to bake. On the first baking try, I couldn't even reach on time because of my late class. By the time I reached, everything was done and all I did was peek from the oven door at the batter changing color and consistency. The cake turned out delicious and I feel it's because I didn't help!!
I was at the same home a week ago when suddenly Muani (the daughter) decided that we should bake. Her mother had bought a new baking mold (a double-heart mold ) and she wanted to try it out. We peered closely at the cake recipe and suddenly decided to be health conscious and that the butter and the sugar was too much. So we cut down on the sugar and added only 1/3 of the the butter from the recipe. The sad part was that we didn't cut out down on the flour and even added more eggs to make the batter more consistent.
After 40 minutes in the 180 degree oven, guess what came out??
Yes! I put the picture on X-large just to scare you!!
I could have sworn the cake was laughing at me! I could have sworn I could hear a boisterous "Haha! You're never meant to bake. Look at me, your failed creation, and go marinate yourself in shame!!"
What the 'failed creation' tastes like?? Cheap dry bread which smells like burnt eggshells!! Yes I know! Why do I give out such embarrassing details? But the comments we received that evening was worse than all these details.
"Kawngsira cake an zawrh chi hi a ang e... 15 man chi ngei mai kha." - Biaka who still nibbled and ate a piece.
"In kua a puar ange... ei lo mai rawh u." - Nu Mamawii, the mother of that home.
"A tui lutuk. Mahse artui hawng ut rim a nam" - Pa Hminga , the father.
I later learnt that no one in the family would eat it and in the end they gave it to some kitchen staff in Mizoram House! I'm sure the laughing cake got thrown out but I didn't want to hurt myself by confirming my suspicions. After that, Muani and I had to endure a week of jokes and fun made at our expense and our stint at baking. Expert bakers like U Rimawii told us to be extra lenient with the butter and later restrict our portion size if we are indeed 'health conscious'.
So anyways, as stubborn as I am, I know that I'm going to give another go. Today (more like yesterday) is Pa Hminga's 52nd Birthday. And Muani and I decided that we'd bake him his cake. So we started out as usual.
I can't even begin to tell you the concern everyone had once we put on our aprons. If there is any unlikely sound while using the grinder, Pa Hminga, the birthday boy would peer from the living room and ask "What's that sound, Zuali?" "Is everything alright, Zuali?". I looked at him and decided that I will not poison him this time around. At least not on his birthday!! So we went whisking and mixing and tasting the batter until it finally went into the oven.
|Whisking! Yeah! We hafta make sure we do it right!|
The first attempt turn out much much better than the last creation but not without flaws. And by flaws I mean, charred bottoms! Heh!
|First attempt! A huge burnt chunk had to be scraped off!|
|Still happy that the cake didn't have the smell of burnt eggshells! :D|
The second attempt no longer had the burnt bottom, smells like a cake should and looks good enough to eat. This made it to the birthday cake! :)
|Attempt no 3: No burns yeay!!|
|Ok! This one breaks into a shy grin " I taste much better than your last attempt. I can't laugh at you now"|
The third attempt was named 'Slim Jim' by Muani and we left it untouched to be served later to their numerous visitors. (Pa Hminga's house is the unofficial Delhi Mizo Youth Den).
|Slim Jim without a crack! Yeah!|
There we go!! I should've known that everything becomes perfect with practice. By the time Muani's birthday comes around in March, I told her I'll bake her a 5 tiered birthday cake with chocolate layers and cream roses. Ha!! I have such high expectations of myself!
And until then, The Baking Ventures continue...
|Happy Birthday to Pa Hminga! You deserve a much better cake!! Sorry we couldn't get all 52 candles in there! And please excuse the icing, we still need a lot of practice! :D|