I haven't been doing much baking lately because I'm trying to monitor my intake of unhealthy treats. Over the past few years I have grown to love pottering about in my bright, sunny kitchen and even find it quite therapeutic. I will never have a food blog or aspire to invent new recipes, but I love to try out different recipes and I'm not afraid to switch it up a bit. I even have a few staple dishes of my own that the kids love such as Beef Wellington (ground beef style), Beef & Ale Stew, Various Pasta's and Green Thai Chicken Curry. As far as cooking goes, I think I've nailed it.
Yet baking is another story. As much as I enjoy cooking, I also love to bake; My mother and her sisters are a deft hand in the kitchen when it comes to their baking skills. My mom's cookies are to die for and two of my aunts make a superb apricot pound cake. I believe my Aunt Shirley will be making one especially for Andy upon our arrival because it's one of his absolute favourites. Yet no matter how hard I've tried, I can't make it to quite the same standard. In all honesty, I've only tried twice and although it was ok, it wasn't anything close to my Aunt Nita's or Shirley's. And because my mom says she can't even get that cake right, I'm not going to bother. If mom can't do it, I don't think I will ever be able to master it. Event though I might not have the baking skills that my elders do, I'm not giving up in the baking department. The kids constantly request my Chocolate Guinness Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing and I can't say I blame them - those things are like crack for chocolate cake addicts... and I even managed to get it right without even really trying. I've only ever messed up one batch, which says enough.
On Sunday we were getting together for a little pre-Canada celebration with the Gallivan's and because Cameron is lactose intolerant I thought I'd try out the chocolate Guinness bunt cake I'd found on-line that just happens to be dairy free.
It crumbled as soon as Connor and I tried to remove it from the pan and ended up in the bin (after Connor had left the kitchen of course). The number one rule of baking should be: never offer to bake a cake for a party that one has never made before...always have a trial run. Always.
So... after an afternoon of picking up a few holiday clothes for Connor, I came home and tried to make the cake again, thinking maybe I hadn't baked the first one long enough. I should have worked out as planned because the second one flopped as well. Worse than the first. Connor was appalled when he realised I'd thrown this one out too(we'd even had the icing pre-made this time). Now here is the proof that I'm just a an amateur in the kitchen: If I was a properly experienced hand at baking I would have used the cake as a base for a chocolate trifle or whatnot, as Dawn later explained her Mum used to do, when Connor was relaying why we had the gall to show up without dessert and only a salad. (Dawn had made a beautiful lasagna.)
After listening to Connor bemoan the binning of the cake for the 100th time as well as my having apologised for not bringing the promised cake (it would have been more embarrassing to turn up with it than not, despite Connor's opinion) I told everyone not to be too bothered about not having the cake, as they will get their fair share once we are in Canada and before I could say anything more Connor piped in with 'yeah, because our Gina is proper good at baking, the best'. What more need I say? The kids love my cooking, and they (and their friends) even enjoy a lot of my baking (especially the Christmas cookies that naturally, Mom gave me the recipes for) but I know that in their eyes I have a long way to go before I live up to Gina's standard. And that's perfectly OK by me, I get it. My Mom can bake and maybe, just maybe, I will have gotten as good as her by the time Jayden is old enough to brag about it.
(In my somewhat novice defence: I think if the cake had called for eggs I might have stood a better chance; if I've learned anything from my experiences in the kitchen it's that eggs are a good binding agent. Also, I probably should have whipped the batter a lot longer. I know that a lot of vegan's bake successfully without the use of eggs, so if you have any suggestions feel free to share.)