She Came, She Ate, And She Never Came Again!

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Just a few days after we got married, my wife expressed the desire to bake a cake. I was both happy, and surprised! Happy, because I have always felt that baking a good or perfect cake is a sign of an accomplished chef. Cakes are never easy to bake, and have tormented and tested even the best of cooks. And I was surprised, because I didn’t know she could prepare a cake too. Mine is an arranged marriage, and the whole process of meeting the girl, getting engaged and then the actual tying of the knot, all happened very fast, and like we both were still in the process of getting to know each other.

I gladly told her that I would extend all possible support to her in this process. We selected a Sunday afternoon, and I had brought all the ingredients as per the list that she had made. And within no time we had the dining table full of the assorted paraphernalia needed to bake a cake. Right from the different sized tiny spoons used to measure baking powder, essence etc., to the spatula, egg beater, couple of sieves, and a weighing scale, all the ingredients were ready. My job was very specific, to have the egg whites separated from the yolks, and then to whip the whites into perfection. I was also given the job of cracking open a few walnuts. I always liked walnuts in cakes. With every bite, you should have a small piece of walnut crunch under your teeth.

Picture Credit: My Home Cooking

Once the process of preparing the entire mixture of flour, eggs, butter, sugar, nuts, essence, and the orange rind etc. was over, she decided to use an oven which we had just received a few days back as a wedding gift. I tried to suggest she should use a baking vessel we had, which we used to keep on the gas burner, but newly wed wives being newly wed wives, she refused. So in went the whole mixture in a cake mould, and into the oven. The oven was gleaming, maybe the inaugural cake made it beam with happiness!! Probably Raju Shrivastav could have imitated the oven too!!!

We all waited for the stipulated time, our next door lady joining a proud mother in law, and both ladies discussed all the cakes that they had baked till now. I myself quietly remembered all the cakes I had till now, from bakeries outside, of course!

None of us were very confident of the oven temperature settings, but we collectively decided to have a combination of temperature settings, and the minutes on the timer. Meanwhile the aroma had begun to travel, attracting a couple of more neighbors. And then slowly this aroma changed from pleasant to something that seemed to burn. In haste, the oven was switched off and out came the cake; it had taken a dark brown or almost blackish tint. And when we cut it open, after allowing it to cool down, the insides were fairly moist. Something terribly went wrong with the measures of the essence, and the baking soda too, as both the flavors were very strong. My wife was extremely upset and dejected. I tried to console her, and the neighbors, started to disappear fast, in order to reduce her embarrassment.

Finally after trying out a few tiny pieces, it was decided to feed the burnt baking marvel to the cow that used to take a round in our locality every evening. To close the chapter quickly, I fed the entire cake to the cow that evening.

She finished the cake in a jiffy, but rapidly moved her head sideways as she ate. I tried in vain to figure out what the humble animal was trying to say. After finishing the cake, the cow left our area in a hurry. I got the feeling she wanted to convey something.

From that day in November 1992, till today, the cow never returned to our home again! I do see her sometimes in our locality, but she starts to run the moment I try to call her. My son, who is now 13, and knows the story, teases his mother sometimes. My wife has since then, baked excellent cakes on quite a few occasions. But that fateful day still lingers on in our memory, when a baker’s initial delight, turned into her plight, and later on became an animal’s fright!!!

Picture Credit: Adam Jones

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Shilpa Garg said...

LOL @ the delight turning into plight and later fright!! :D

I am a good cook and my hubby is a master chef (by passion not by profession) and still whenever we bake cakes or pies, it's always butterflies in stomach time. Sometimes its great and other times... :(
And somehow, I have seen that when one is cooking any other dish, you tend to add more or less of the ingredients, but when one is baking, its exactly as per the recipe... not a drop or gram here or there! and still the results are dubious!! :P

August 4, 2010 at 12:53 PM
pra said...

Very funny! But animals do recognise tastes! One crow used to come to our house regularely and refused to eat roti without ghee!

August 5, 2010 at 10:32 AM
InkTank said...

@shilpa - i agree completely shilpa, the best of chefs n cooks can fail when it comes to baking cakes, precision, proportion, timing, so many factors:) and i now know the test to a well made cake, simply feed it to the cow:):) thanks for reading!

August 7, 2010 at 1:44 PM
InkTank said...

@pra - yes, this happens too, a dog at the local veggie vendor gorges on tomatoes thrown sometimes by the vendor, the over ripe or the crushed n damaged ones... never seen dogs turn vegan:)

August 7, 2010 at 1:45 PM
Abhiroop Banerjee said...

What a fun read, Anand :)

November 11, 2010 at 12:17 PM

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