Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Alchemy and lunacy

It's a full Moon tonight. I should have known because I have been a walking disaster area all day! I'm sure I can't be the only one that seems to endure more mishaps than usual during the full Moon. I'm more clumsy and forgetful and just plain ditsy at this time. A bit of a lunatic in fact! The word lunatic derives from lunaticus meaning "of the moon" or "moonstruck".

Aristotle argued that the full Moon induced insanity in susceptible individuals because the brain, which is mostly water, must be affected by the Moon and its power over the tides. Scientists say that the Moon's gravity is too slight to affect any single person but despite that people still insist that admissions to psychiatric hospitals, traffic accidents, murders and suicides all seem to increase during a full Moon. Even though there is no scientific evidence to back this claim up, I believe it to be true.

Today I have been running around like a headless chicken from one disaster to another. Nothing has gone right. Amongst all the chaos two major events have stood out and they were the post office incident and the sticky ginger grand canyon cake.  Let me elaborate.....

At the post office, I had three parcels to send. Got some posting bags from the shelf there and proceeded to fill them and address them. Went to the counter to pay only to find I had no debit card on me and only about 7 pence in coppers. There was a MASSIVE queue of tutting people behind me as I was fannying about trying to see if a mysterious amount of cash, or debit card might be lurking elsewhere in my handbag.  It wasn't of course. As soon as I opened my purse and saw that the card wasn't there, I knew exactly where it was. In the pocket of the trousers I was wearing yesterday that were draped over the back of a chair in my bedroom. Fat lot of use it was there. But you know how it is. Even knowing that you cannot possibly change anything, you feel compelled to go through the motions of looking just on the off chance your fairy godmother has magically transported the darn thing back. She hadn't. Had to slink out of the post office with my tail between my legs leaving the packages at the post office until tomorrow. Hope to God that they are still there in the morning.

It's my birthday on Thursday and providing cakes is what is expected at work. I usually make a couple of big cakes to take in. This avoids the whole picky git situation. There's always someone who doesn't like cream/chocolate/sugar/etc and I just can't be bothered with any of that. Making a cake shows that you give a damn, after all you went to all that trouble, so no-one can moan about what they like or don't like! It's easier and I am all for the easy life. I decided on a lemon cake and a sticky ginger cake (from now on referred to as SGC). Lemon cake will get done tomorrow but SGC needs to be done a bit sooner so that it can get nice and sticky.

SGC is a batter type mix. You melt brown sugar, butter, treacle and golden syrup with a small amount of milk until it's all blended.  Then it gets mixed into the dry ingredients (plain flour, bit of bicarb of soda, cinnamon, lots of ginger, a pinch of salt and a couple of beaten eggs.  Tip the lot into a lined loaf tin and bake for around an hour at about 150 deg. No problem I thought. Stupidly, and I am totally blaming the full moon for this, I miscalculated the time and took the cake out too soon. Up until this time it had looked marvelous. It had risen beautifully and the house was filled with the gorgeous aroma of cake and ginger. But alas! Almost as soon as it was out of the oven disaster struck. The middle collapsed immediately and there was a gaping chasm in the middle of my lovely cake. I was mortified. I couldn't for shame take it into work. So began SGC number 2. I am breaking off from this post intermittently to go and pace up and down in front of the oven keeping a close eye on the back up cake. So far it's looking good. It hasn't risen quite as magnificently as SGC number 1, but then that might be a good thing and an indication of a more robust rising. Fingers crossed.

On the plus side, I just had a slice of the weirdly v-shaped SGC number 1 and it tasted fantastic!

Baking is a wonderful thing but it does smack of alchemy. Even though we understand the science behind it all, it always amazes me when I watch cakes transform from sloppy mixture to cake. It's a little bit magical. I am still just as spellbound by the whole process as when I was a little girl making fairy cakes with my mum. It's domestic alchemy. Even if they turn out a funny shape, or collapse in the middle, it is so much more satisfying when you have performed that little bit of magical jiggery pokery and made your own. No shop bought item could ever match that I'm sure.

Right. It's time to go and test SGC number 2. Wish me luck.......

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