Friday, December 2, 2011

Of kitchens and cake baking

Today a friend and I baked a cake in the Sonapani kitchen. 'Because the students are coming', I explained. S and the staff grinned- they knew as well as I did that it was Mian's return that spurred my baking, not that of his brood.

It's an easy cake recipe and one that is complicated in the memories it brings up. My mum, my sis and I have been baking this cake always. It's a Thangam Phillip recipe, out of the book that we always turned to. The book carried evidence of the love we had showered on was besmeared with masala and batter, dog eared, falling apart, and stuffed with handwritten recipes. That finally fell apart, and now I have the second generation copy. It too, is fragrant with all I have cooked from it. It too, has Amma's notes, written in her voluptous kannada-inspired handwriting.

I no longer need the book to make this cake with. What I do need is something to stop me from crying with missing my childhood and the many other times we have made this cake. My mum, my sis and I have made it in our old sawantwadi house, in the circular Bajaj oven that did not have a thermostat. We have made it happily for birthdays, and sadly for Acca to take to her college with her. We made it in Pune, in our spanking new OTG, again a Bajaj. I have made it super-sweet for a little baby who did not appreciate bitter chocolate yet. I've made it for a crush who called it 'captivating chicu's chocolatey chocolate cake'. I made it for Mian when he was not my Mian yet. I made it today to welcome him back after a week away. And I always miss my mum  and my sis when I make it.

But here is the recipe.
1 cup maida
1 cup cocoa
1 cup butter
1 cup (or a little less) powdered sugar
1 pinch salt
4 eggs (3 if large)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla (or rum, or coffee)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt together. Three times, and with the sieve 10 cm above the plate, my mum would insist.
Cream the butter and sugar together till very, very light and fluffy. The more, the better, Amma says.
Then add the eggs one by one, whisking after each addition. If it curdles, add a tbs of the dry mixture, she said while she rescued the cake. 
Then gently fold in the dry mix, moving in one direction only.
Add a little milk if it seems dry. It should look like dosa batter.
Pour into a buttered and floured cake pan. Bake for 30 mins or till done. Don't check for done-ness too often, it lets the cold air in.
Never in the last 30 years have the three of us been able to let a cake cool unmolested for long enough to ice it. If you are more disciplined than we are, good for you!

1 comment:

Grumpy Granny said...

I have cookbooks like that and cannot say how much I love them and how much I love making things out of them. Of all the things I might have got from my mom's house, the one thing I do regret is not getting her stacks and stacks of cookbooks. Perhaps my sis-in-law kept some of them. I'll have to ask...