Pieces of my world

Monday, September 18, 2006


Catastrophe au four

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Did I mention the disaster of the lemon sponge pudding? I didn't? Well now, you just sit yourself there awhile and I'll tell you all about it...

It so happens that this past week has been "cooking week"- in a fear induced frenzy, on realising that "oh-my-God-I'm-going-to-University-in-three-weeks-and-I-can't-actually-boil-an-egg", I begged (yes, begged- unheard of!) my mum to teach me how to cook.

So I set about peeling and chopping an assortment of vegetables. Several near cuts and grated fingernails later, my mum surveyed my efforts, pronounced them passable and permitted me to actually try out preparing an entire meal. Surveying her wide eyed, I wondered whether she was really being serious in letting me loose at the oven top. Seemingly, she was. And, surprisingly, I found that actually cooking isn't all that bad (or at least it's not with someone knowledgable on hand to rescue me from my various disasters- wondering why the gravy pan wasn't thickening up for 10 minutes, before Mum handily pointed out I hadn't switched the heat on; pans overflowing, making the gas flicker and hiss alarmingly; oil spitting angrily when I accidentally put water in the pan). To my delight, the food I produced was actually edible and quite tasty too, wben if I do say so myself! Yes! Result! Quesadilla- mastered that. Omelette- mastered that. Roast Chicken and Lamb dinners with gravy and vegetables- all under my belt. Bread and Butter Pudding? No problemo. Chicken Chow Mein? Sure thing. Chicken and Pineapple with Ginger? Fait accompli.

Yes, I was doing rather well...until the lemon sponge pudding.

"Disaster" is NOT the word.

The first attempt (because yes, there were two attempts and both pitiful) was inspired by a recipe that didn't seem too difficult and which was accompanied by a drool producing photograph (it's amazing, isn't it, how delicious and appetizing food appears in images, yet turns out looking NOTHING like it in practice...) So I dumped all my ingredients in a bowl, like the recipe said. I whisked the concoction vigorously, just like it said. I added my egg white, as the recipe said. I poured in half a cup of water, just like it said. The tiny (but crucial) problem was that my half cup of water was half a mug, whilst the recipe's (as mother, giggling, later pointed out) was practically a thimble's worth. And that's where it all went downhill. The margarine separated into tiny lumps which floated on the top of the watery, insipid mixture. Even after two hours of cooking (it was only supposed to need 40 mins), the soggy mixture resembled a bowl of congealed vomit. We didn't bother to sample my efforts. It was scraped (or should I say poured) into the bin.
Round number two.
I gritted my teeth. "Lemon sponge, I WILL conquer you!" I vowed. "I AM going to dazzle my contemporaries at university with my magically light self-saucing dessert!!" And so I phoned the best cook I know- my Nanna, the cooking guru. If there's anyone in my family to get a recipe from or advice concerning a pesky lemon sponge, it's Nanna. It did look better than attempt number one, I have to say. Although, to be frank, it couldn't really get much worse than attempt number one, could it?
The first sign that something was wrong was that, despite the two eggs, mountain of sugar and heaped tablespoons of margarine, it really didn't make very much.

"One ounce of flour??" Mum peered over my shoulder, incredulous. "ONE
ounce of flour and all that margarine? Are you sure you've written it down
right? That doesn't seem enough to me-"

"Yes! Of course! I have written it down right, I have! That's exactly the
quantity Nanna said!" I snapped back in retaliation.

"Ok, ok"- Mum carefully (and no doubt wisely) backed away- "You know

The second sign was the eggs. I knew the drill. "Crack the shell, split the egg, use the egg separator, voila! Yolk + egg white= separated egg!" I sang to myself. "Ok, egg number two, crack the shell, split the egg, use thOH BUGGER! Muuuuuum! My yolk's gone into the white!! What do I dooooo?" (My mother will be a lot happier-and calmer- when I've left for university).

This, obviously, is a disaster.

Egg white with yolk in it= egg whites that won''t "whip until stiff"=supposedly light sponge acquires demeanor of a lead pancake. Brilliant.

The third sign that my sponge, meant to be fluffy and melt-on-the-tongue, had the consistency of creme brulée. This is obviously not good.

The fourth and final sign that your dessert is beyond rescue is when it takes more like lemon scented washing up liquid and your (oh so kind) mother takes a mouthful, coughs, splutters, grimaces, croaks "I'm sorry OctoberPoppy", refuses to swallow even one mouthful and promptly spits it into the bin.

I obviously was not destined to become a chef...


Blogger Kim said...


you get 10/10 for effort though, OP!

at least you've mastered the main course. I can bake a mean cake, but when it comes to actual food, I have no chance. I leave in four days, and beans on toast is about as á-la-carte as it gets...

9:36 am  
Blogger litlove said...

I don't know why baking is so much harder than any other culinary skill, but it is. I've been producing meals daily now for years, and yet if anything's going to go wrong, it's always the pudding... Never mind! That's what they invented supermarkets for...

4:36 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home