Wednesday 3 June 2009

Why do people buy awful cakes?

J reminded us at dinner tonight that she always used to have either home made muffins or a cake of some sort on the go. There was no chance of her buying a cake from one of the chain cake shops that have sprung up like weeds over the last decade - she was too poor for that. Home made was the only way to go.

With that in mind, I pulled out my latest Donna Hay cookbook tonight and attempted to make chocolate puddings for dessert. They are sitting in the kitchen at present, cooling down. The house smells fantastic - there is an entire cup of cocoa in them. We will eat them as soon as I have finished blogging this post. I am not going to put the recipe up - for manly men to make - until they have been tested and passed as suitable for scoffing.

The thing that got me blogging though was that just as I was getting the ingredients out of the pantry, Monkey trooped into the kitchen and asked what I was doing. When I told him I was making a cake, he decided to stick around. Especially since it is a chocolate cake - his favourite.

He collected the eggs from the fridge - dropping and smashing one on the floor on the way - and attempted to eat the butter, because he thought it was cheese. He then watched intently as I stirred and whipped and blended and folded and poured the mixture into ramekins, and then came his proper introduction to cake making as a kid - I gave him the spoon to lick.

He took to that like an ant-eater to an ant-nest. His tongue went flick-flick-flick until the spoon was so clean and polished, you could see your face reflected in it.

And that's how things were like for me as a kid. Mum would mix up the ingredients, and I'd always get the spoon and/or bowl to lick afterwards. I think that is how I was introduced to the joys of cooking. Watching Monkey attack the spoon brought back those memories, and I hope that he takes to the kitchen like I did.

How does that happen though if all you do is buy cakes and muffins from a cake shop? What must it be like to grow up in a house that is completely bereft of the smells of a freshly baked cake, or apple pie, or fresh bread? Cake shops look ok, but they have no smell, for the cakes are baked elsewhere and trucked in. They are sterile and boring and completely lack those evocative scents of Paris.

There is no good reason to lack these smells. The puddings that I made tonight took less than 10 minutes to prepare, followed by 20 minutes in the oven (during which time I put my feet up and did some reading). Their preparation was not onerous; the kitchen sink is not buried under an enormous mound of pots and pans that require washing; my brain is not overly taxed by the experience.

I am sick of typing - it's time to eat chocolate pudding.


kc said...

This is me, applauding you, on this EXCELLENT post. Thanks for the reminders of why I do what I do.

Richard_H said...

I've got a suspicion that it's to do with the efforts by food companies (nothing sinister here, just good business practice on their behalf) to convince us that many things are just too difficult to cook. Look at the profusion of packaged food things, like the "beef stroganof" which are basically corn flour, salt and a couple of other ingredients.