After spring came the summer of 1992. My little sister was born and she chose to share my birthday month and thus started the adorable tradition of celebrating birthdays together. The most important ritual was baking several cakes of different sizes as we always had a tiered cake. The top tier would hold the number of candles corresponding to kiddos age. My mom would religiously sieve the flour fold in the butter , beat the batter, grease the baking tin, pour in the gorgeous batter( I always thought of eating it raw, why torturing it by putting it into the oven 😛 ) and place it in the oven.
However, I think I volunteered for the toughest job, watching the cake slowly rise and attain that beautiful golden color. Grow old as you might, your mother , till her last breath, would tell you, “careful!!!”( didn’t you just smile), as you came closer to the oven( mine still does that). It might sound easy but staring at the oven WAS a tough job. Especially when I knew that I was not going to get a bite till later in the evening when all my friends would be drooling over the cakes with greedy eyes and their moms( if invited) would be full of praise for what a wonderful baker my mom was.
Coming back to cakes. My first step in baking cakes was sitting with my mom in the kitchen watching her. As I grew a little older she would allow me to do odd jobs like sieve the flour, measure the sugar( grinding not allowed as it required ” electric” mixer grinder), beat eggs, and finally fold the batter. Mind you, all this did not happen overnight. It took several years and at least thrice its number of cakes for my mom to pass on the legacy but I successfully graduated.
Living in and out of hostels and company accommodations, never let me settle down in life after Bokaro. Then Delhi happened. A city where I have spent the longest duration after college and where( after changing several accommodations) I finally have a beautiful kitchen. I had crappy ones too but who wants to know the sad story. Finally I could bake cakes but I still did not ( or for that matter do not) have an oven. That’s when the age old pressure cooker comes to my rescue.
That’s how I made the first Chocolate Cake in Delhi.
- 1 cup Maida( *refined flour* for the elite :P)
- 1/3 cup Sugar
- 1/4 cup Oil
- 3 tbsp Cocoa Powder
- 3/4 cup warm milk
- 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
- 1/4 tsp Vanilla Essence
- 2 tsp Unsalted Butter
i) Sieved together refined flour, salt, baking powder and cocoa powder and kept aside.
ii) In a vessel mixed together refined oil, butter and powdered sugar and beat well. Added the sieved flour mixture and mixed well. Added the vanilla essence and then added the milk a spoon at a time to adjust the batter to a pouring consistency. The cake batter was ready.
iii) I then greased a the baking tin( usually aluminium but you could use a steel vessel) with 1/2 tsp of refined oil and dusted the surface with refined flour. Poured the cake batter into the greased tin. (The batter should fill half the baking tin and not more.)
iv) Pressure cooker and and about an inch of Water in it were put on a flame. Then kept a stand inside the cooker to hold the baking tin. Once the water came to a boil placed the cake tin on the stand( and yes… ” careful”..I was)
v) Closed the lid of the cooker. Removed the whistle and placed it on low flame. Allowed the cake to steam for 30 minutes. Opened the cooker and allowed it to steam without lid for 5 minutes.
vi)Inserted a knife to check.(The knife should come out clean. If it sticks steam for some more time.)
There is a reason why I make the cakes egg less and not with eggs. My mom is a religious woman and follows some rules like not having ” non-veg” (which includes eggs) on particular days of a week ( I hope she realizes that there are only seven in a week). We never made chocolate cakes at home. My mom does not like the smell( yes she made it a point to say smell and not any other word like flavor or aroma) of chocolates. We never forced her to make one either. After all, she would have the first bite after we would cut the cake. She is our mom. Now I relive my chocolate dreams but try to keep the cake egg less..
We spell cakes with a ‘c’ because that’s what we spell celebration with. However now that I bake cakes, we hardly celebrate birthdays together. Work, studies and above all distances have taken a toll. Now when I bake a cake, I miss staring at the oven, my mom saying .. “careful”… and even though I can have the cake immediately after I make it… I wouldn’t mind waiting till all of us are together….