Trans-Continental Baking Experiment – A Chocolate Mud Cake

A mere two or so years ago, I was the sort of person, who would have looked down her nose at even the concept of ‘meeting people online’. I could not understand how people could make friends with people they met online.

Even when I started blogging, I had no idea that there is a blogging community and that you would interact with others – to say that I was completely clueless would be the biggest understatement. Which is why this is even more amazing for me. One, to meet so many wonderful people on the internet, who you can so identify with, with similar ideas and two, to collaborate with 5 women across the world in a baking experiment, of all the possible things.

It all started with Goofy Mumma(GM) sent a bunch of us (‘A’ , Monika, Trish and me) an email asking for a chocolate mud cake recipe. I don’t bake too many chocolate cakes, so I was of little help. ‘A’ sent across the most delicious sounding recipe from here.  GM tried it and had a few questions and doubts. A flurry of emails went back and forth.  ‘A’ went through the effort of making 2 cakes, following slightly different methods and came out with the most gorgeous(and I am sure,  delicious) cakes. Not just that, she recorded everything she did. And that prompted Monika, myself and Trish to give it a try and GM to give it a second try.

The first time I tried it, I totally forgot to check whether I had enough dark chocolate and realised just as I was making it, that I had run out of dark chocolate. Thankfully, I found a huge slab of white chocolate in my pantry. I also added 50 gms  of cocoa, by replacing it instead of 50 gms of the self-raising flour. I had a really runny mixture and it took me ages to get the cake done. I had also made the mistake of buying a pan of the wrong size.  I had wanted to pick up a 9 inch pan, but ended up with an 8 inch one instead, stupid me! So I had enough batter for an 8 inch cake as well as 16 cupcakes. I was literally praying that it does not become a disaster. I am normally very, very particular about following cake recipes exactly. While I play around with other recipes, baking, I feel, is quite an exact science and I am loath to use approximations or substitutions. So having made so many changes, I was quite apprehensive about the result.

My worry only added, when at the end of 45 minutes(the time mentioned in the recipe, the batter was still liquid in the oven. Finally after 2 hours, and a lot of poking and prodding, the cake was done, albeit with a bunch of cracks.

Not a pretty cake at all. The cupcakes turned out beautifully, not a single crack and they were ready in 45 minutes time – they were just gorgeous, and I forgot to take pictures. In my defense, I had a busy day, I was having friends over for dinner, and had a lot on my mind. Well, as they say, looks are deceptive. The cake was the most divine tasting cake ever! It was moist and absolutely delicious! My friends took home the leftovers. I kept aside some for Poohi which disappeared the very next day. The cupcakes went to work with husband and were never seen again.

Inspired by the gorgeous results that the others had with the recipe, I was tempted to give it one more shot. This time, I was determined to follow the recipe properly and follow all the tips and suggestions that everybody else had added after their own experience with the cake.  So I went and bought myself a stash of dark chocolate and set about it all over again. You know, when I plan to do something right, I almost definitely make some really dumb mistake. This time, I ended up pouring the chocolate mixture into the flour, instead of the eggs. In my defense, both the bowls were next to each other. I know, it is a lame defense. Then on, I followed everything, and hoped that this time, my cake turns out pretty.

This is how it turned out. Not as bad as the previous time, but still with some cracks.

So to take the attention away from the sad cracks, I just inverted it and dusted it with icing sugar. The dusting was not done very well, though.

A slice of chocolate mud cake anyone?

The most amazing part of this experiment was that feeling of being part of a group, knowing that someone, even if on the other corner of the world, was there to talk to, to ask for suggestions.. The sort of tips and information that just flowed in those emails was absolutely wonderful! We discovered things which we took for granted was new information for somebody else, and learnt some really cool tips from the others.. It was such a collaborative effort. The joy at seeing my friends’ gorgeous cakes was more than seeing my own.  I would refresh my inbox every time I could, just in case, you know 🙂 Girls, thank you so much for all that! GM, A BIG thanks for starting it all off.

To see the other gorgeous, yummilicious cakes, hop over to ‘A’s, GM’s, Monika’s and Trish’s. And if any of you are in the vicinity here, please drop over, I have my last attempt stowed away in the freezer 🙂

When my legs went on strike..

Today was one of those days when little goes according to plan.

I had my work all chalked out, but was disrupted when I got caught in a chat by email marathon with some of the looniest characters in blogworld (you guys know who you are, let me not name and shame all of us :)). Before I knew it, time had flown right out of the window.

Now this is one of the things I hate about living here, no maids, having to run around doing stuff all by myself, and before I knew it, it was time to pick up daughter from the nursery. Now she goes to another nursery 2 days a week and it is a mile from where we live. I have perfected the art of leaving at the last minute possible, in order to pick her up, dot at 1:00. With careful iterations, I have reached my best time of 15 minutes door to door, and today, it was 12:50 before I could get out of the house. And I had not even had the time to have lunch – which in my case is a disastrous thing to do.

With 5 minutes already eaten up and the nursery charging by the minute for every minute we are late, I had to somehow reach on time. So I drew up a back up plan. As soon as I reached the walking trail, away from curious eyes, I would have to sprint. Walking was not going to take me there in 10 minutes. So as soon as I reached a point in the walking trail where no nosy-parker could see me, I set off, only to come to a grinding halt in under 3o secs. I almost ran into a terrified toddler, clinging to his mother, terrified at the sight of my hurling down the path, handbag and fleece jacket flying in the air. I must have looked like Phoebe 😦

After that, I tried running after the toddler and his mum were out of sight, but my legs refused. They refused to be punished for my wasting away my time and expecting the world out of them, without providing them with adequate nourishment . Not only did they refuse to run, they also refused to walk as fast as they normally do. Talk about disobedient legs! And ways, after a lot of cajoling, they decided to up their pace. By then, not just my legs, my tummy was protesting in hunger too.

Finally, despite my short lived sprint, I reached the nursery only at 1:05, and picked up daughter. They did not mention anything about being late – but I guess, next month’s bill will.

By the time, I got daughter to leave the place (she loves her nursery so much, that she tries to linger there as much as she can – am sure those people must be thinking that I torture her at home ), I wasdelirious with hunger and my legs were killing me. Turns out, daughter wanted to add to that. She was in the mood for some running. So off she went, and I had to run with her, my legs cursing me with every step, and tummy rumbling ominously.

If all that running was not enough, she also had to go and play in the park. Now, I want her to be active, but sometimes, I do wish she would say things like, ‘Can we go home quickly and sleep’, instead, her park time fun never ends. It was 2:30 by the time, I managed to pull her away from the park, and haul ourselves home and get some food inside me. What bliss, to be able to eat something!

Starving for 2.3 hours, almost killed me. Tell me guys, how do those amongst you who fast, without food or drink, manage? My admiration for you guys, have increased manifold after today.

Has it really been that long?

I can’t believe it. It has been a year since I started blogging.

Of course, it is another story that what blogging then was so different from blogging now. I started simply because I thought I wanted to write.. and shared the url with very few friends -very select friends of mine initially. One of my friends commented on my first post – and I did not even notice it until a month later! I was so clueless and had no idea how magical it would become a few months down the line.

Though I started writing in September, I did no posts in October as we were busy with moving houses(and cities) and it was in November, when I got hooked onto reading other people’s blogs. I was taken aback at the number of blogs and from then on – used to read blogs like mad. IHM and Mr Vinod Sharma were the first people to comment at my blog – apart from my friend who I had ignored so badly 😦 I think it was mind boggling to me – to think that anybody would  care to read what I write..I can’t say how encouraging their comments were, at that point in time.

And then slowly, blogging became much much more than a hobby – it became an obsession 🙂 The blog world is such a amazing place. The number of ideas, the different perspective on various things – has all helped me broaden my outlook. So many things , I have taken for granted, I am now thankful for.. Similarly, in a lot of areas, blogging has opened my eyes to a different reality.

The most fantastic part of this journey of mine, has been the people! Every one of you – I want to say thanks – for reading, for commenting and showering me with so much of love! I don’t have a single post of mine, that I consider special – but your comments – so many of them,  are so so special! I can’t thank you guys enough!

I don’t know how long I will continue blogging, but one thing I am sure is that I will cherish every minute that I have blogged.. It’s been an amazing experience, a learning experience, and an unforgettable, unmatchable one.

Just a quick Onam update , we had a lovely lovely time 🙂 Poohi had the time of her life with the pookkalam and the food – for a change, she ate without a murmur 🙂 , and had the most lovely time with her friend D. We were up till 11:30 in the night – a very very rare occurance in our home.  And we all struggled to wake up today.

Leaving you with the picture of our modest pookkalam, made with all the wild flowers that I picked from the nearby woods at 6 in the morning 🙂