The only fancy or non-essential item I ordered online after spending months at home since the lockdown started was a bottle of nail polish. I wanted to put some colour on my nails and feel happy. And I did feel a little surge of happiness when I applied the first coat of iced mauve on my feet. That said, I continue with my self-imposed make-up ban. I don’t feel the urge to put colour on my face. So the kohl pencil, lipsticks and blush sit idle in my drawer. I don’t know when I am going to use them next.
I am working for home, not working from home. Managing house chores, tending to my plants and cooking something nice to put on the plate for the family every day. Mostly, my kitchen work starts late afternoon, say, for oven roasting veggies, baking a vanilla cake, cooking spicy Thai curry or frying some batter-coated crunchy pomfret or tiger prawns. Dinner has to be special. There has to be something to look forward to at the end of the day during COVID times.
Today, I tried vanilla cake. I love cakes. At birthday parties, if given a choice, I could only gorge on cakes. But eating a cake is undoubtedly easier than baking one. So I had to do some research before messing up my kitchen with flour, eggs, butter and sugar. But let me be honest, I did not follow the instructions (read: measurements) to a T. That’s where the goof up started. My brother, who is a decent chef, pointed out during a phone conversation later in the evening that I cannot deviate from the original recipe and do my own measurements. CANNOT. But I had already done my own tricks and the cake was going in and out of the oven because it wasn’t getting perfectly baked.
Maybe the milk was too much, the butter too less. And I kept staring at the cake through the glass door of the oven and wondered why it wouldn’t rise and get fluffy. The crust was slightly brown and kept getting darker as I kept putting back the cake in the oven to make sure it was well done. In fact, the crust was overdone and that’s when I decided to turn off the oven.
The middle was slightly moist but the vanilla cake, which my son wittily named vanilla halwa, surprisingly tasted good. The crushed cardamom and cinnamon, along with the vanilla, gave it a nice essence. To give it a healthy touch, I used less butter, so the cake had a bread-like texture. But the dessert was lapped up by my loved ones in a few minutes. And that’s what made the whole exercise worth trying. Next time, I will stick to the original recipe of a vanilla cake and strictly follow the measurements. My brother recommended Julia Child’s Vanilla Pound Cake recipe. Hoping to try it soon.