I woke before my alarm at 6am that Saturday morning. I crept to the kitchen to spy on the sugee and butter in the plastic bowl. I’d beaten them together the night before with an electric mixer. As I lifted the fabric food cover, the mixture looked the same as it had seven hours ago. Well, who was I to question my mother’s secret formula?
I needed to leave the house at 8.45am, so I figured that would give me an hour to prep and an hour for the cake to bake, with time to spare.
Now I needed to separate eggs. Four yolks to go into the sugar in one bowl, four whites for beating into the meringue in another. I’ve also measured out the flour and ground almonds in another two bowls. I am finding that being so together with bowl organisation does wonders for your self esteem. Those TV cooking show hosts who rustle up a dish from 25 bowls of prepped ingredients must feel like demigods.
Standing at the kitchen counter, I began folding in the flour and chopped almonds, then the brandy and vanilla, into the egg yolk and sugar mixture. Soon it became a fluffy cream, flecked with sugar granules. As I’m conscientiously folding away, the oven light goes. It’s ready.
After folding in the whipped egg whites, I scan the handwritten recipe in my mum’s clear plastic folder. Yup, the batter is good to go.
I’ve buttered the inside of a Christmas cookie tin with a reindeer and snowflakes on it. It’s nowhere near Christmas, but why not enjoy a little bit of Christmas everyday, I think gleefully to myself as I pour in the batter, feeling like some unseasonably festive elf toting a sparkle gun.
The oven door clangs shut. The red and white snowflake tin rests inside, the rich yellow batter glistening under the tungsten light. As I look at the clock on the tiled kitchen wall, I feel a thrill of self-satisfaction. I am organised and on time and I’ve already baked a cake before breakfast. That’s right, I rock.
After washing up, as I’m about to step out of the kitchen, my eye falls on the food cover on the kitchen table. The horrible realisation strikes.
“Oh my lord, the sugee!”
I’d left out the sugee and butter mixture! And now the cake was happily baking away without it. Dammit!
I grab the oven mitts, yank open the oven door and pull the tin out. When I hold my palm over the surface of the batter, there are no ripples of warmth. Yes. The sides of the tin are miraculously still cool as well. It seems the cake hadn’t actually started cooking.
As I fold the two mixtures together, I’m hoping my efforts haven’t been a total waste. This is so stupid it’s hilarious, I think, as I shove it in the oven again and bang the door shut.
An hour later, all the pain and mayhem is completely forgotten. All I can do is gaze in loving adoration at fluffy golden-crusted cake that’s just out of the oven. It’s even risen a half inch over the top of the tin, like a soufflé. This must be what new mothers feel like. Pride, not a soufflé.
While I’m snapping a photo, a disturbing thought occurs to me. Did I actually say ‘Oh my lord, the sugee’ just now? I have never, in my entire life, uttered that phrase. At first I’m flummoxed. Then I get it.
I’ve officially become a Eurasian Sugee Auntie.