My first chocolate cake.

After 5 years in grad school, I decided to move to California where my husband of almost 2 years had moved to from Cornell. I had still not got my degree and it didn’t look like it was going to happen for another year or two and the long distance marriage thing wasn’t working for me any more. It seemed like I was missing out on life. I would sit on Facebook for hours and look at others pictures. Everyone was doing something, they were getting on with life – traveling, partying, having babies. I was married and living single, studying but getting nowhere. So I decided to try working long distance for a change. The rest as they say is history – my research I mean. I loved the role of being a homemaker so much I am still doing it 5 years later. I don’t think of it as “I am doing nothing”, but I feel like I can do anything I want. I do miss having a steady income and a schedule though, because I am a creature of routine!

When I had just moved to California my mom told me about this awesome chocolate cake that my cousin had baked for her when she visited her. As always she insisted that I learn baking. I don’t know why but my mom always wanted me to learn baking. She liked to bake too, though she thought she wasn’t great at it. I am not complaining though. We got to eat lots of cakes and cookies when we were little! Anyway, on a lark I called up my cousin and asked her about this cake. She said she had learned it from another cousin of ours and gave me the recipe.

1 1/2 c maida

1/2 c cocoa

1/2 c oil

1 1/4 c sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 t soda bicarb

1t vanilla essence

1 c milk

1T vinegar

Wait, wait vinegar? Really, I asked her. Yes, she reassured me. Mix the milk and vinegar and keep it for a few minutes. Okay, I will take your word for it. So me the novice who had never baked anything other than a chocolate cake under my aunts supervision (really she baked the whole thing) baked this cake all by myself. And it was perfect. It was soft and moist and yummy and what else is there to say? I was floored. What was the deal with the milk and vinegar I kept wondering? So I started looking into it – how does baking work? And that is how I discovered the secret world of “baker’s man”. It is full of science and art, experience and skill, patience and creativity, speed and calm, love and passion. It is deep and broad, it requires an understanding of physics and chemistry and maths, but also a strong intuition, a sharp eye for detail, hand-eye co-ordination, a flair for design and immense care. You have to add as much as you have to add, nothing more, nothing else. You have to mix as much as is needed, not more, not less. You have to bake just until its done, a little more or less and you have messed up. It is as Alton Brown aptly put it in equation form “Food x Mixing + Heat = Baking”. I think that’s the reason I love it – it appeals to both the left and right sides of my brain. And I’m still addicted, even though nowadays I don’t get a chance to bake as often and as much as I would like to. Just reading about the marvels of baking – the things one can create with sugar, butter, flour, eggs and an ounce of creativity gives me a high.

About Aditi

My thoughts are who I am and I am what my thoughts make me.
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