At the weekend, my WI was providing refreshments at a 10km run, starting off at the lovely Langford Lakes. Now, I’m the first to say that I’m no baker (along with being no cook, needlewoman, crafter… in fact, the list of things I’m not could probably run to pages – but I make a mean Christmas wreath).
Usually in these situations I defer to those members who can knock up a reasonable batch of brownies, or a cake that actually rises but this time I decided to face my fears and make a cake myself. Well, if I’m going to be completely honest, I asked The Girl to make one, being as she has eschewed a teenage life of getting drunk and being sick on passing vicars like her mother, for one of the heady joys of cupcake making. And believe me, her peanut butter cupcakes are quite likely better than sex. Yes, I have failed miserably in the upbringing of my daughter. The last time I left her and her friends alone for an evening I came back to ‘The Great British Bake Off.’ In my day, it would have been an illicit pack of No 6 fags and a crafty bottle of Malibu. She has no idea how to misbehave. Sadly, she was too busy.
Anyway, back to my cake. I decided to make a carrot cake using the (not-so) secret recipe given to me by my old Canadian flatmate. It’s an old family recipe which she used to lure men into proposals of marriage. Well, it wasn’t so much that she used it to lure then, it was just that it is so incredibly, amazingly delicious that marriage proposals were inevitably forthcoming. I should say, but don’t spread it around, that I am the only person outside of her family who has the recipe, most likely because she knew I was the least likely to use it. She was party to my Weevil Curry and so was very well-acquainted with my culinary misadventures.
I won’t go into how I grated the carrots (and the odd finger), enough to make it, surely, one of my Five A Day, lovingly beat the eggs into the finely sifted flour and so on but let’s just say that a lot of effort was put into it. It came out of the oven looking pretty damned good. Beautifully risen, light and spongy to the touch. I left if on the side while I prepared the cream cheese icing with just the right balance of cheese and sweetness. Actually, that sounds pretty vile but we all know that cream cheese icing is a must for carrot cake. The icing was spread over it in long, languorous swirls and the end result was carrot cakelicious and definitely worthy of a photo.
How was I to know that Gizmo, my stupid, deaf cat would have a penchant for cream cheese icing? By the time I came back with the camera, he was up on the range cooker deftly removing the icing with his tongue. I shouted at him but he ignored me. Not really much point shouting at a deaf cat, is there really? I shooed him off and surveyed the damage. It was well-licked but nothing that couldn’t be repaired. I can almost hear the intake of breath from any committee members reading this. She didn’t did she? O.M.G! Did she really serve a cake that the cat had licked to members of the public, even if they are the ones stupid enough to go on a 10km run in a hurricane?
The answer is……no. Of course I didn’t. I didn’t want the slow, lingering deaths of members of the Salisbury Tri-Club on my conscience. They say a cat’s mouth contains more bacteria than anything else on earth. Well, if you discount RyanAir in-flight meals, of course. No, I swore at the cat, threw him outside and chucked it in the bin. Or did I chuck the cake outside and the cat in the bin? One or t'other. Now what? I had no more carrots for a re-run of the carrot cake, nor the time to do it. There was only one thing for it. I needed a helping hand from my friend Mrs Crocker. You might know her as Betty.
I dashed to the supermarket and, lo and behold, she’s managed to reduce a carrot cake down to a bag of dried ingredients with suspicious looking orange bits. I don’t think they’d count as one of your five a day. Back home, I added a bit of oil, some water and a few beaten eggs and that was that. I did wonder why I’d spent hours grating carrots when all I really needed was one of Betty’s cakes-in-a-bag. The end result wasn’t quite as good as the first one but it was passable and tasty. I kept it well away from the cat. So there you have it, my ‘homemade’ cake was an imposter. I snuck it in among the proper homemade stuff and didn’t mention Betty’s involvement. So there you have it, I’ve fessed up, I’m a homemade Carrot Cake Counterfeiter.
|Sorry, but it was Betty's, not mine|