The whiff of baked goods wavering through the kitchen. Sitting on top of the kitchen slab, eyeing the circular electric oven raising the vanilla cake my mother spent her precious Sunday afternoon preparing. As I sit there licking the left over batter and badgering my mother about timing of food preparations, she narrates a mythological story about the scrumptious fruits of “patience”. This is the time long before the OTG was affordable to households like mine. We had electric ovens which were predominantly used for baking purposes despite of the myriad features the oven boxes illustrated. Baking, something I am not too fond of was introduced to me by my mother like many other children in my generation. A few years later, as a good sibling I passed it on to my kid brother who is about a decade younger to me.
The first home cooking experience for many starts with this. Baking of the simple vanilla cake. The one you take to school to prove that a “good” mother is the one who can bake! Gender stereotypes apart, baking also has vivid memories attached to it. The warm slices from the freshly baked cake, licking the butter paper after it has been removed from the cake, rationing of the cake by parents to prevent you from binging and falling sick!
I had to cook when my mother was sick but I baked with my mother and I cherish that more than cooking, said a friend while discussing the ideas for a new blog post over the internet. Any skill or art which involves an end product of mouth-watering food has a history. Thus, for many like my friend it is related to the memories which are attached to it. Good or bad, cooking (or baking) will always be attached to either two situations: one, where you had to acquire that skill; or two, when you learnt the art.
Baking has become synonymous in my house, not because I love to bake but because of the sheer factor of passing on the art form from one generation to the other. Not to sound like the popular Indian television soap’s theme of ‘sanskaar’ but the analogy does hold true, it is the culture of passing memories and avenues to create new memories from one generation to the other.
Aother friend’s mother, who adores me had parted with her cake recipe about a decade ago. I have religiously followed that recipe over the years with a few changes in ingredients. I might not have perfected it but these changes have brought improvements in the texture and the taste. I had shared this recipe with my brother a few years back on his 14th birthday. He now bakes it on the occasion of my mother’s birthday. I feel the tradition of baking in my family takes a full circle here.
Nixy’s Mother’s Cake Recipe 2.0
- 1 cup Flour
- 1tsp Baking Powder
- 1tbsp good quality Cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s Cocoa Powder)
- One pinch salt
- 2 eggs
- ¾ cup white butter (softened not melted)
- 1 cup castor sugar
- 1 tbsp Vanilla Essence
- 1 cup double cream
- ½ cup Chocolate chips (optional)
- Sieve the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, salt 2-3 times
- Cream the butter and sugar together. (Put the castor sugar over the softened butter, it helps when the butter is cut in smaller cubes. Now start combining the butter with the sugar till both of them make a homogeneous mixture. It is normally done with an egg beater; electric or manual. However, if you are in a colder climate, a cheat is to first bind the two ingredients with a wooden spatula and then use the beater till they start looking similar to a creamy texture. The creaming technique helps in creating a better texture for your cake)
- Put in the two eggs and vanilla essence after beating them, in the sugar mixture. Mix with the egg beater.
- Mix in the flour mixture into the egg mixture by folding the mixture. (Folding method is used in baking to prevent loosing air from the mixture and is done with a spatula) For a good fold go to [http://www.wikihow.com/Fold-%28Baking%29]
- Mix in the chocolate chips. If you feel that the batter is not similar to a thick falling consistency mix double the cream. Do not mix in all at once. Do it in steps, to prevent it from being a runny cake mixture.
- Grease a baking tray and pour the batter.
- Preheat an oven at 180 degree centigrade. Put in the baking tray and bake for 20 minutes. Once the cake is done. Let it stay in the oven for about 10 minutes (this is necessary as the cake will lose its rise if taken out immediately, this is what I call the temperature shock for the cake)
- Take out the cake, put in a knife or a skewer in the middle. If it comes out without any batter on it, your cake is done, or else put it in the oven (after preheating it again) for about 5-10 minutes.
- You are done!
- You can experiment with different flavours in the same cake by subtracting the cocoa powder and vanilla essence and putting fresh cuts of fruits and their essences (like orange, pineapple etc) in it. You might need to experiment with the flavours at least2-3 times before you perfect it. 🙂