When baking gets emotional

I spoke too soon on Tuesday – my baking mojo definitely has not been in full residence this week. First the missing egg from Sunday’s brownies (the only time my ‘fail-safe’ recipe has failed) and then on Wednesday night, a true baking catastrophe.

Actually, I exaggerate (as I’m apt to do). The baking itself was fine, a new luscious lemon drizzle cake recipe worked beautifully and the resulting cake tasted delicious. What went wrong was the getting it safely out of the tin part of the process. The bottom of my spring-form pan stuck to the cake and my efforts to separate the two resulted in a cake in three pieces. There were tears (racking sobs in fact), some swearing and a couple of slammed doors. All in all, I learnt several important lessons from the event:

  • 9pm is far too late to start baking on a day that’s already been stressful, emotional and generally hard work. 
  • Cake Release from Lakeland is NOT sufficient for well-turned out cakes, baking parchment is essential. [Relieved that I’d not actually bought it, simply inherited it from a former flatmate.]
  • I need a palette knife.
  • I should not give in to my infantile reactions to such events – the cake was nearly thrown on the floor and stamped upon. It’s good that I did not do this.
  • You can salvage such situations.
  • When the cake’s going to be sliced prior to public consumption, you can get away with a lot.
  • Broken cake can still taste good.
  • The tears and effort were worth it, as the cake was thoroughly appreciated by those for whom it was baked. 

I’ll post the recipe when I’ve refined it, suffice to say it lived up to my expectations of what a good lemon drizzle cake should taste like – even though by the time I got to the plate, only crumbs were left. All I have as photographic evidence is a not too good iPhone photo, trust me, it looked better in the flesh:

Dealing with disappointment

Generally, I’m a fairly positive person and deal with disappointment pragmatically (except if it involves men, then I become bitter, twisted and find myself unable to eat cake). Sure, I was peeved when my moving-to-California neighbour sold his piano to his builder, having previously promised it to me (for free), but I got over it and don’t even mention it when he complains (now that he’s back) that he’s got no piano to play. However, I do find, as with most people, that it’s the things that are most keenly looked forward to that can cause the most disappointment.

On Sunday, after a luxurious lie-in (verging on utterly slobby) I dragged myself out for a pre-church walk. The river was being battered by gale force winds and the walk from London Bridge to Charing Cross (via St Paul’s and Covent Garden) required a number of hat holding moments (in the very literal sense – I crossed Millennium Bridge with one hand firmly on my head). Such an invigorating exercise made me rather peckish, so as I approached Covent Garden I promised myself some Oreo Cakesters from CyberCandy. Disappointment number one was that the store had none (nor did it have – yet again – small packages of Peanut Butter M&Ms, but this is an ongoing disappointment that will only end if I give in and buy a large bag for £7). I stocked up on mini peanut butter cups, Twizzlers and cinnamon Pop Tarts, but was left without a squidgy sugary snack to boost my energy levels.

Starbucks was a logical next stop and en route I decided that I’d even push the boat out and allow myself a non low-fat muffin, specifically of an apple & cinnamon variety. Yum. [Have you noticed I’ve got a bit of a thing for cinammon? It’s without question my favourite spice – I never make porridge without it.] My mouth is actually beginning to water at the memory of it…

Negotiating the crowds in Trafalgar Square, I hurried into the tube and gratefully sat down for the first time in hours. Eagerly I opened my paper bag and took out the muffin. One glance and I nearly howled in disappointment. There, on my lap, was no apple & cinnamon goodness but instead, a lousy blueberry muffin. Wait, not even a normal one – a low-fat blueberry muffin. In their defence, Starbucks do excellent low-fat muffins, their peach & raspberry version being a personal favourite, but the blueberry one is massively disappointing.

In anger I threw the muffin back into its bag without even taking a bite and thrust it into my handbag. I was furious that I’d been denied my choice of treat by a barista who hadn’t listened to me properly and that I was now travelling at speed away from the shop, so could do nothing about it. Disappointment when combined with hunger and rage is never a good thing and somewhat irrationally I nearly burst into tears. Quite what I would have said if someone asked what was wrong – “the woman at Starbucks gave me the wrong muffin” would have sounded really quite pathetic. But honestly, I was on the edge and it would have been the kind of crying that lasts for a good long while.

A bit of muffin love…

Fortunately, on this occasion although the disappointment was bitter, it wasn’t long-lasting. By the time I arrived at church I was all smiles and on re-telling of my muffin woes, realised just how pathetic they sounded and tucked into a welcome brownie instead. (People give out baked goods at the church’s entrance – one of the many reasons why I love my church.) Thankfully, those I told were sympathetic so I even managed to feel less foolish – though on reflection I realise that in life there are much, much bigger disappointments one must deal with.

Writing this post has made me crave nice things, so do excuse me, I’m off to find a cup of tea and a chocolate HobNob…

Post Edit:
I got a rare anonymous comment on this post that I won’t publish, but will respond to in the body of the post – for the benefit of anyone else who feels the same. The comment read:

“Sounds like someone doesn’t realise just how fortunate they really are.”
Ouch.
If you’re a newcomer to my writing, most of it shouldn’t be taken too seriously – generally I just take the micky out of myself as a way of staying grounded and aware of what an idiot I can be. The point of my post was to show that I was in such a mood on Sunday that I nearly cried when given the wrong cake – like a 6 year old – which is neither mature or reasonable. As I said above, I realise that life holds bigger disappointments and I wasn’t trying to brush those aside. In fact, if anything, when I was shouting “it’s not fair!!” inside my head it wasn’t so much about the muffin, but probably residual disappointment at something much, much bigger, which can lead me into a tendency to make mountains out of molehills. 
Finally, if you’re reading this post for the first time now, it means you also missed out on my spectacular mis-spelling of HobNob. All I’ll say is that there was an erroneous ‘k’, but I’ll leave you to work out where it went…