Have you ever had one of those days where no matter what you do your cake just refuses to rise?
I remember once I decided to make a birthday cake for my friend’s surprise party. I wanted to make it really special so I found a delicious looking recipe that looked a little complex but promised a delightful reward. I shopped for the ingredients, excitedly filled up my basket, and raced home to get started, eager to see the look on my friend’s face when he saw my proud creation.
Bowls lined the worktops filled with powders and liquids ready and waiting for their roles in the sweet alchemy to come. I carefully mixed them, keeping strictly to the recipe, and readied the oven. I placed my infant masterpiece into its protective womb, set the timer, and awaited its gestation.
So far so good.
Then came the agonising wait. I checked Facebook and was flooded with reminders of why I was doing this. Then the nerves set in. What if it tastes horrible? What if it burns? What if the icing is wonky? What if everyone hates it?
But as soon as they arrived, my worries were melted by a ghostly seductive hand caressing my nose, filling my nostrils with the intoxicating aroma to let me know it was nearly time.
I rushed to the kitchen and could hardly contain my excitement as I opened the door and looked down at the shelf.
A weight crushed my heart as I stared at the crater that should have been my precious creation. Sunken as though it could not bear the very weight of the world, it stood limp and lifeless. Disheartened but still hopeful, I examined it closely. Maybe I could mask it with the icing? Restructure it? No, I needed to try again.
And I did. Twice more.
Out of flour and out of hope I began to admit defeat. This cake was falling flat in every conceivable way.
But that didn’t spell the end.
Spurred by a sense of stubbornness I decided to approach this differently. I found an old sponge recipe from my mum’s 1970s Biro book, and at 10pm raced a mile through the darkness to the shop to replenish my ingredients.
Minutes before the start of a new day the oven dinged and I opened the door expecting a monstrosity. But there it was, standing proudly and triumphantly like nothing ever happened.
Iced, decorated and left to set, I finally made it to bed around 1.30am. And I’ll tell you now, it was worth every second.
Sometimes no matter what you seem to do, your cake keeps falling flat. Making a cake can be complex and intricate, and any number of things can cause it to fail. Sometimes you just need to keep trying, sometimes you need to change the ingredients or the oven settings. Sometimes you simply need fresh eyes, and sometimes you just need a whole new recipe.
Its important to remember never to give up altogether. With time, patience, and a little hindsight, you can have your cake and eat it too!
Cakeology inspired by Char’s crappy year at uni.
Photo credits to sweetascanbe.info and thepatrioticbaker.com.
Photo edits by Char.