Cooking, especially baking had been on my dream list when I was a little girl. In fact, I’ve always wanted to bake a cake since I was as young as I could ever remember. When I was eight, I helped my mother and my aunt to bake some cookies for Eid or ‘biskut raya’ as we call them in Malaysia but my mother forbade me from baking cakes.
“It is not that easy to bake cakes and it’s very easy for something to go wrong,” she had told me. “Surely it can’t be too hard to bake a cake, isn’t it? The mixing was done by a machine. Why, even I could push the button of the mixer. How could anything go wrong?” I had thought then. I tried to ‘lend a hand’ but I only managed to give the cake a sharp poke before I was dragged away by my aunt. I dare say that the eight years old me felt quite hurt at being mistrusted.
My mother loved to bake when she was younger but she stopped using the oven when I was old enough to crawl into the kitchen, fearing that I might ‘burn’ my little fingers touching the oven. Now that Ali, the youngest of us, will be ten next year, mom trusts us enough to be careful near the oven. Suddenly we are having a delightful breakfast of Irish bread, soft and buttery cinnamon rolls for tea and tasty enchiladas for dinner.
I pleaded for my mother to let me try baking my first cake entirely on my own. At first, she was very reluctant to give her consent; quite rightly too for not just that I never had any experience in baking anything, I also tend to do everything in such a muddled haste or ‘solo bolo’ in Trengganuspeak which could be disastrous in baking a cake. However, she later relented after I promised to bake under her supervision.
I was absolutely thrilled and I immediately flipped through her baking recipe book which she had used when she learned to bake herself. I decided on going through the book methodically, starting from the first recipe which reads ‘first sponge cake for a beginner to bake’. My mom didn’t quite agree. She suggested the pound cake “which is almost the same but is far tastier and easier to make”. She laughed when I pointed out that the title of the sponge cake says that it is the first cake that a beginner like me must bake before trying anything else.
The first tinge of fear hit me as soon as the previous excitement died down. I finally realised that I had not the least idea of how to ‘beat the eggs until foamy’, let alone folding flour into my batter! But since I really wanted to try out everything on my own, I decided to not ask my mom but to look up for some tutorial videos on the Internet. It seemed much more difficult and tedious than how I imagined and from my memories of watching my mother baking ‘kek raya’ but I was determined on going to do it all by myself.
I baked the sponge cake the next day and quite surprisingly, the cake turned out ‘very good for a beginner’, as what my mom said. Although it didn’t taste as good as how a pound cake would have tasted, I think the excitement and satisfaction of baking for the first time was enough to make me ate two big slices of the sponge cakes! At last I had finally been able to bake my first cake!
A week after, I baked a pound cake for my sister, Anisah’s birthday (much to my mother’s joy). Unfortunately this time, I forgot to preheat the oven until I had folded in the flour. I also spilled some hot water while melting my butter (to which my mother had stared at me with profound astonishment and asked, “How in the world could that ever happen, Aiman? This is the first time I’ve heard of such thing!”). However, it survived my little mistakes and the cake turned out beautifully well and delicious too.
Baking the cakes did give me a pleasant time and I enjoyed every moment of it. In some ways, it’s easier than baking bread, which I tried a few weeks after. Mom does not agree with me, well, she even let my little brother baked a whole wheat bread since the bread does not need much kneading. And with a little help from mom, my little brother’s first bread turned out beautiful and tasty too.
Well, it may be easy to bake breads but it tries my patience as I waited for the dough to rise. Then I need to punch it down and after shaping it, I need to wait for it to rise again. Such a long process of waiting… and if the bread is a loaf, I have to wait for again before I could slice it. It is really hard not to be able to taste the wonderful bread right away as it comes out steamingly hot from the oven. Starring at the golden bread while sniffing the sweet and ‘tasty’ aroma made me feel as how Cookie Monster feels when looking at a plate of cookies that should not be immediately eaten.
So now that I had tried my hands at baking cakes and breads, I’m wondering what should I bake next?