The Act of Baking a Cake

There is an ongoing joke among some of my friends: ‘the cake without passion’. Years ago, mere second year students in a picturesque seaside town, my friends and I had decided to spend the day baking a cake. Yet after a day of hanging out and shopping, no one really felt like it and so to my horror, the act that should have been enjoyable was rushed as a chore. Noticing my upset, my friends enquired what the problem was and I cried out: “The cake has no passion in it!” Cue bemused faces and years of teasing reminders.

I wish I had these - by Danbo Brothers via madlyinlovewithlife @Flickr
I wish I had these – by Danbo Brothers via madlyinlovewithlife @Flickr

Last Tuesday, whilst preparing for our first writing workshop, I had to think of this. The couple of days before had been stressful and though by Tuesday morning, the feeling of physical nausea had shrunk to mere nervousness: I still had to fill the hours until the start of the workshop. I decided to make a cake and picked a recipe that was easy but hopefully liked by the majority: lemon drizzle cake.

I shopped for the ingredients and was even given a discount on the lemons by my local greengrocer. Washing the lemons and grating the rind, I wished that everyone would turn up. While I was beating the butter and sugar together, I wished that our workshop would fit their objectives. Cracking the eggs, whisking them in one by one, I wished that everyone would be open-minded and kind to us and each other. Sifting the flour into the mixture, I wished that my friend and I would work well together as facilitators.  Stirring in the zest and lemon juice, I wished that everyone would enjoy the experience. Pouring the batter into the tin, I wished that this first workshop would be the start of something exciting.

I put the cake into the oven and packed my stuff. 45-50min later, as was described in the recipe, the cake was still liquid in the middle. Panicked I looked at the recipe again and the comments below the line mentioned the exact same problem. I had to be patient and wait, I turned the oven a bit lower as the top was done and texted my friend that our pre-workshop talk was delayed. Then I realised there wouldn’t be time for the lemon syrup to drizzle on top…

Leaving it to the very last minute, I pulled the cake out of the oven again: skewer came out dry – just. Wrapping the cake in a clean cloth and a plastic bag, I ran for the bus. Once on my way, I looked out of the window and watched the never-ending bustle of London; holding the warm cake in my lap, I knew that it might not be perfect but it would be alright.

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