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I have far too much anxiety to ever have a story even remotely close to a cooking error (a thing I love doing and consider to be a passing interest) large enough to be described as “epic.”
As far back as my memory will allow, the last major failure I remember having is trying to bake chocolate chip cookies from scratch for the cooking portion of my Life Skills class.
We often learned a step-by-step from our teacher, would take the recipe home to cook it ourselves and fill out some form on our experiences, and then we would come into class the next day and cook it with our assigned groups, and that would serve as the final test for each recipe.
The only time I have ever failed at producing something in the kitchen was when I worked on those cookies. I have NEVER been a baker and this only proved my point and solidified it in my mind. I have not attempted to bake a fuckin’ cake, muffin, cookie, pastry or pie and I can make a pie crust from scratch, up until about 2 years ago when my husband and I moved into our apartment.
But those cookies, the failure obviously has stuck with me in a significant way, and I just didn’t even try until over lockdown I couldn’t buy a cake for my daughter’s birthday and was forced to face my fear of baked goods.
I found myself face to face with the oven, probably looking like a crazy homeless just wandered in from the street and mistook the oven for a person, because, yes, I was talking to it. Well I was pleading with it really, I said something like,
“Okay look oven, I know you and I usually do NOT do baked goods, and believe me I want to do this, like I want a hole in my head; not at all. However my current situation requires that I make this cake as if Martha-fucking-Stuart herself came here and personally baked it, handed me a joint, and crashed her way out of my parking lot to go do hood shit with Snoop Dogg. So please please please please please please, PUH-LEESEEE, be good to me, please.”
I get that mumbling to your oven already seems like an action one takes when failure is imminent, but it actually (surprisingly) turned out well for me. It wasn’t burnt, was super moist and I waited for it to cool long enough that frosting and decorating the cake was the easiest part.
I will add that the process was not anxiety-free, just because I did take it out early because I started to smell the cake and I was already on high alert because our oven becomes very hot very quickly and often when you follow the directions of how long to cook a pizza, you need to shave 3 minutes off at the very least.
I was standing in the middle of the kitchen playing on my phone and waiting for the timer to go off, when the smell hit my nostrils. Fear washed over me and I immediately dashed to the oven to grab a cloth, pulled it open, and was relieved to find that the entire cake still appeared yellow and only the corners looked a little on the brown side of golden brown, and not by very much, so I did the toothpick test on the densest part of the cake and pulled that bitch out.
It had been about 10 minutes before the timer was even set to ring. I gave the oven a pat as I turned all of the knobs to their “OFF” positions, and set it out to cool. Relief and joy that the baking curse had finally been lifted. Liberated at last.