Last Monday evening I raced home to bake a cake for the staff lunch on Tuesday. It was my debut baking contribution at work so I was hoping to pull off something good, something maybe even a little impressive? One could only hope. It was going to be the pear upside down cake. I'd made it a few times before and it always worked. A nice spongey cake topped with a lemony caramel syrup and thin pear slices.
I had a two hour window of baking opportunity before French class so went to work. I knew the danger of baking to a deadline. Cakes often don't take kindly to it. I knew that the best baking is always the result of entering a weird baking zen mode, with no pressure or performance anxiety. Unfortunately these conditions could not be manifested on this occasion, but bake I must.
All went reasonably well, although the cake batter looked a bit curdled and runny, but in the oven it went, while I made, served and ate dinner with the Smiths. At the halfway check, the bottom looked a little black - the oven was too hot.
I was getting a bit antsy by this stage. I had no more time to make anything else so this had to work. Oh well, a little extra 'caramelisation' on the bottom wasn't the end of the world. I turned the oven down and hoped for the best.
With five minutes to go till I had to leave to parle francais avec mes amis, the oven timer rang and the cake came out of the oven. It looked ok.
Now you have to turn these cakes out while they're still warm, don't you?
Here's my fancy cake plate. Its a nice big,flat, white one. A bit slippery on the top, but she'll be right. I'll just put it over the cake tin and flip ...
That was the moment that the tin slipped off the edge of the cake plate and half the cake splatted onto the kitchen bench.
I removed the tin quietly, lay down my tea towel, walked to the armchair and sat down.
Not only would I NOT be impressing the staff with my baking skills, but I would be that knobber who promised to bake and didn't deliver.
The baking-under-pressure curse strikes again.
It was time to go to French.
I picked up my books, despondently hugged the luthier and smalls and left the ugly cake scene behind.
Halfway through French class I received a text with this photo and the message 'lemon cake'.
The luthier, known for his superb craftsmanship of stringed instruments and the occasional maker of an excellent custard, who has not often before made a cake, had come to my rescue. Covered with lemon butter icing, it was the toast of the staff lunch.
It must be love.