|Early this morning just as the sun was rising....|
At the stables where the girls ride, there is a tradition that any time you fall off you have to bring chocolate cake to the next lesson. This tends to make falling off an event to be celebrated, albeit with a sideways grin to it. Two weeks ago Youngest was deposited on the ground after the recalcitrant Peanuts decided to go through a fence rather than over the jump in front of him. As it is rare for her to come completely unstuck from the saddle, this is only her second chocolate cake event and she was determined to bake it herself.
Wednesday afternoons are busy. I collect the girls from school, pick up two of their friends for a play date, drop them all home, then head straight off to retrieve our son from cricket practice. I left them to their baking solo. Middle Daughter is a fairly accomplished baker already, but Youngest, though she helps a lot, hasn’t yet tackled a recipe start to finish completely on her own.
While I waited for cricket to finish my phone rang.
“How much is 10ml?” my husband asked. So he’d been roped into proceedings. He’s well used to the mechanics of bread baking by now and is taking turns with the daily loaves several times a week now, but I don’t know when if ever he’s made a cake, so the girls were probably more experienced than him, except when it comes to reading my hand-written recipes of course.
I enlightened him and went back to watching cricket.
The older girls ran out to meet me as I drove into the garage forty minutes later.
“The cake’s all sticky and it tastes of cream of tartar” was my chorused greeting from them.
I went in and examined the mixture. Sure enough it had a kind off rubbery texture that bounced back on itself, resisting spreading, nothing like the recommended soft dropping consistency of the recipe.
After a lengthy interrogation I managed to establish that almost all the right ingredients had gone in, and pretty much in the right quantities. All that was missing was the bicarbonate of soda (baking soda). The big difference seemed to be in the order things had gone in. Instead of mixing together the dry ingredients, they had put in the flour on its own and then added the cream of tartar, without the bicarb, at the end after the liquids had gone in. It was an interesting chemical experiment to see how much difference this simple alteration made to the consistency.
Anyway by adding the bicarb and a bit more milk we managed to loosen up the mixture a bit, though it still tasted a bit odd. It was duly baked, rising like a volcano in the centre but perfectly acceptably cake-like.
This morning Youngest got dressed quickly, a rare occurrence as she usually lingers and gets abstracted in thought, to leave enough time to ice the cake. She mixed the chocolate butter icing and then lovingly spread it over the volcanic slopes, finally adorning it with a horse’s head outlined in blue sugar balls with a silver ball star on its forehead.
She was rightly very pleased with her achievement and proudly bore it off with her to school. She’s promised to bring some back for us to taste after riding today. We'll see if there's anything left!