It started with chocolate chip cookies last year. I baked that nearly every month or tried to and brought to the office to make friends. The English seem to like home-made stuff – they tend to get more touched or express more enthusiasm when hearing the words “home-made” or so I feel. In Singapore, people seldom bake stuff or at least the people in my office(near me) don’t. One can buy a cake more easily than baking. If you know someone who bakes, I would imagine you are quite lucky. The culture of baking is not that. Hence I suppose that’s why the bakeries flourish.
Well, you can be quite certain – they will be getting no business from me when I return for holidays in November. I am now a fairly accomplished beginner baker! I know a couple of techniques – though I am not certain how the techniques differentiation impacts the cake yet. From baking cookies, I learnt that sieving is important if you want it to be crunchy rather than clumps.
After the transition from cookies to cakes this year, my monthly affair has evolved into once nearly every two weeks. In fact, I am worried I may get sick of baking soon. My latest creation as seen below – the marble cake! It was not as difficult as I thought and I took a short-cut by using instant coffee instead of freshly brewed coffee as the idea of brewing fresh coffee at 8pm purely to inject two tablespoons into the cake does not make sense to me. The makings of a lazy baker.
Reason for the marble cake was to show my hospitality as I organised a learning session for colleagues tomorrow morning and I thought it would be nice to bring some cake after a bank holiday.
The two pictures below are both (easy) chocolate cake. One before the sugar-coated stars, one after. I made three of that within 3 weeks, hence I decided to give a shot at the marble cake today.
Purpose for the chocolate cake was for ” The English Farewell” and I tried baking one the week before. And the aim of the third one was of course to extend my friendly gesture in the office. I did kind of promised a couple of folks hence I made it in the spur of the moment to keep up my reliability.
With the series of attempts, I learnt to split the mixture and they expanded really well to become a double layer cake! If you want to moisturise the cake, poke in holes to ensure there are good gaps for the chocolate sauce to sink in. Apparently if you use a double light cream rather than a double cream, the cake is less rich and people could go for more!
The poppy seed lemon cake. I made three poppy seed cakes in July. Two plain and the last one with lemon. Each time around, my Italian flatmate was a great contributor and we watched a Vietnamese Youtube video to innovate from a plain one to a lemon one. The first poppy seed attempt was for my Japanese friend, the second one to fulfil a promise to a friend and the third one? To bring for some friends.
Poppy seed cake baking taught me how to fluff up the egg white prior addition rather than dumping in the entire egg. It’s apparently more spongy? Honestly I could not taste the difference. In addition, I realised icing sugar in reality is white in colour rather like powder instead of looking like sugar.
Carrot cake as seen below! The most successful attempt ever! This was the first cross-over attempt from cookies baking. I enjoyed it tremendously and it was a joint effort with my Brazilian flatmate. The purpose of the cake was for the farewell party for our Canadian flatmate. Extremely delicious and one can go for multiple slices without feeling sick.
Having seen the pictures of the wonderful cakes, I would like to emphasize that even baking the same cake at any one time, the steps I undertake variates. Sometimes I remembered to sieve the flour, sometimes I forgot. At times, I dumped in all the ingredients; on good days, I fluffed up the egg white. Once, I didnt have enough ingredients and just tried to make do with whatever I had. The butter – I never measured them – it was all estimations. I was more excited about reducing the duration of the cake-baking process than to get a better tasting cake – as they tasted nearly the same to me.
Honestly, I wouldnt be the best baker in town. If there were no occasions, I will never bake a cake and I have all the characteristics of a lazy baker. To top it up all, aside from the carrot cake – I didnt even really like the other cakes. Especially the chocolate one – when I see the amount of sugar I pour in, I equate it to the amount of exercise I have to carry out to negate the effects.
So my friends asked me, why then do I bake? Put simply for now,
1. I appear to acquire a like for creating a solid from scratch. It’s a little like chemistry laboratory class in school when you mix in all the solutions and you see the end result looking different from your initial elements. Quite cool, isn’t it?
2. For friends and making friends – there is an appreciation of a home-made cake and people tend to warm up to you more. Much easier than me trying to strike up a conversation and reading up more on football.
3. A sense of achievement – for a beginner cook starting up more than two years ago and a non-existent baker, I proved not only to myself but I realised, nothing is impossible. It’s just a matter of wanting to do it, nothing is hard as long as you find your motivational force.
4. Build up patience and creativity – I learnt to be more patient with following simple steps and adapted steps to ensure efficiency has not diminished the quality of the cake. As I knew that though it is crucial to be efficient, this must not affect the output else the efforts for the entire process will head down the drain.
Have I fallen in love with baking? No but most certainly the love of creating something for a purpose is an integral part of me.