unsubtle revelations about personal character through baking

If you like writing or reading, then you’ve probably, at some point while browsing the Internet, come across a clip or quote from some writer affirming that “if you write, you’re a writer.” The same goes for most other creative hobbies and careers. Of course, this does not mean that just because you do something, you’re good at it.

That in mind: I am a baker! Not a great one. I’m good for a select few recipes–like my favourite crinkle cookie recipe–but trying out something new usually means a dramatic turn from would-be tasty baked good into abhorrent crap destined for the garbage bin. See, my way of thinking is that if it doesn’t taste delicious, it’s a disaster to be dismissed and filed under failure.

Baking with friends usually results in this kind of disaster. Yeah, I get that the end result of a baking party isn’t the actual baked good–it’s the bonding experience, the laughs shared and warm fuzzies felt or whatever. Okay.

My friends don’t bake often, or ever, and if they do they’re very laissez-faire about it: substituting cake flour with regular flour, unsalted butter with salted. Ballparking measurements with table utensils instead of measuring spoons. Some people are fine baking this way, but I can’t. You can’t get the taste right if you make lazy sacrifices. Taste matters! How can you be satisfied with any food that falls short of greatness? I know I should just relax about it, and I do have fun with my friends no matter what we’re doing, but not following recipe directions drives me up the wall and onto the ceiling, where I violently burst into fla– wait, no, sorry. I’m thinking of Supernatural again. Mostly I just fight the urge to whip the back’s of my friends’ hands with my rubber spatula when they reach for the wrong ingredient.

I get that when it comes to baking with a group of less experienced friends, I’m not always as pleasant as I should be. I’m very aware of the impatient, aggressive control freak I can be in the kitchen.

So given all that, today was a different experience. I baked with my friend at her boyfriend’s apartment (boyfriend was away), and it was actually relaxed and fun. Maybe it was because there were only two of us–fewer hands make it easier to know what’s going on and whether what’s going on is going well– or maybe it was because she was easy to work with. Maybe both. Anyway, the apartment is at UBC, and has a beautiful ninth story view of the forest through large, wall-length windows. Good atmosphere for whipping up tasty cakes.

IMG_5721 Ruby folding the flour mixture into the eggs and sugar for the shortcake.

First we made chocolate lava cakes. I would’ve liked the chocolate flavour to have had more of a punch to it, but it was still good. Tasty with strawberries and whipped cream. And the melted chocolate center… m-m-mm! Recipe is here.

IMG_5743      IMG_5745

After devouring a lava cake each, we started on the strawberry shortcake. The recipe was okay, but it didn’t turn out very well. Personally thought it was kind of blegh– like a moist, dense, plain vanilla cake. Definitely nothing special. But, like most people I know would say: cover it up in enough whipped cream and strawberries, and you’re good to go.*

The weather this summer has been perfectIMG_5748

While we waited for the cakes to finish doing time in the oven, we napped and chatted. Ruby is one of those people who will say, “Okay, shh, let’s nap,” and then bulldoze through the quiet literally five seconds later with a “YOU KNOW WHAT I THINK ABOUT X ? Oh my god, it’s like… ” She’s also one of the few people I’ve met at university who’s unabashedly content with liking what she likes. I don’t think she has guilty pleasures– just pleasures. Maybe I didn’t want Hannah Montana’s Best of Both Worlds stuck in my head for the rest of the day, but today was a reminder that I’m glad I met her.

We both ate way too much cake and felt like puking. (We didn’t.) We parted, Ruby going to a job interview and I back home, where I went for a jog for the first time in a long time. And yes, maybe the inordinate amount of cake consumption had something to do with the jog.

I got home and pushed my tongue across the skin above my lip, tasting salt, and jumped in the shower. My relationship with exercise can wait for another post.

Until next time,


*I wasn’t good to go. My portion will end up going in the trash, probably.


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