I have a number of interests: some of them more productive than others. One of them is wandering round second-hand book shops seeing whats out there. On a recent trip I came across a tome called “The 1936 Economical Cookery Book”. Intrigued I opened its pages and found that it had a recipe for every meal of every day in the year, including making use of leftovers, plus a small section of treat recipes to put the sense of culinary fun into the life of our forbears. “This is too good to miss” I thought to myself and swiftly bought it.
Returning home with my prize I could see little opportunity to utilise it, especially given that cooking is not one of the things I am famed for, if anything of that nature exists apart from my ability with scrambled eggs of course. At the following weekend a number of friends were coming round and when they arrived I proudly showed them my purchase and said,”Why don’t I make us a coffee cake”. A range of reactions was evident ranging from muted surprise through to an element of disbelief. Unperturbed I opened my new prize possession at page 328 and looked over my recipe. Ok both the layout and the ingredients might look a bit dated but lets face it, coffee cake is coffee cake: what could go wrong.
In our cupboards we boast a rather nifty cake tin. One of those where you slide the base between the rim which makes extricating the cake easy at the end of the cooking process. What a good idea that is. After showing off the tin to my friends I assembled the required ingredients, including eggs, flour, sugar etc and set about making the mix. Moving smoothly through the process I got to the bit where you added coffee and it seemed to be asking for 10 ounces which equated to roughly one jar of instant coffee. I poured a jar into the mix and worked furiously to make sure the texture of the cake was smooth and even before ladling it into the tin. Looking at my triumph I felt a burst of pride and raised the tin above my head, balancing the base on my fingertips.
This may have been a mistake as the nifty base now slid up between the sides of the tin releasing a large quantity of the mixture down my shirt. “Oops” said I, and there was a mixture of muttering and criticism from my captive audience. Unbowed I scooped the surviving mixture off my clothing and placed it back in the tin. The seal between the base and sides was not all it might have been, but you can’t have everything you want in life so I let this detail go.
“Your not going to bake that thing now” queried a friend but of course I was. Into the oven it went and after the alloted time I took it out. It must be said that a quantity of the mixture was in still in place, but quite a lot had escaped through the gap between the base and sides producing strange stalagmites of cooked cake hanging from the bottom of the tin. “The secrets in the taste ” I said boldly, but somehow I felt I was not carrying my audience with me. The tea was ready but no one else seemed keen to try my creation so I ate over half of it myself. I hate waste.
Soon I began to feel a bit odd and hyper and started charging round the room like an overheated puppy. “Are you Ok” someone asked. “He’s gone off his rocker” said another, and even I felt something was awry. Checking the recipe again I now saw it said one ounce of instant coffee: not ten. I was on a caffeine induced frenzy which lasted for about two hours before I flopped exhausted onto the sofa. Perhaps I’d better stick to scrambled eggs