I had great plans for the summer. And that was to complete every last one of my waist-high homework assignments (see last paragraphs in link).
Not quite the party of the century but it was a great and noble plan because the amount of homework we have in my course is of epic god-level magnitude and I wanted to start the new term in September with an empty inbox so I could have at least one stress-free day before the box piled up again.
Unfortunately, Piers ruined my plans by buying a new oven.
Suddenly I acquired a new hobby — baking — an absurd turn of events since the only time I ever wanted to bake anything was during my Agricola phase when I wanted to make cute clay figurines for the game.
(These aren’t made by me; I found the photos on the Internet.)
The thing is, me enjoying cooking of any sort can be considered a phenomenon as bizarre as a meteor hitting Singapore and killing off only cockroaches and my enemies.
I was capable of cooking easy stuff (thanks to Home Economics classes in secondary school and the invention of instant noodles) but have always felt it an inconvenient chore.
A year ago, if I’d been asked to write a Personals ad, it would have read:
I love gaming and hate cooking, so expect to eat out or live on instant noodles. On the bright side, you can game as much as you like.
Living in England changed that. Missing my favourite food from Singapore, I’ve had to try and make stuff myself, like my experiment with bak kwa. It actually tasted quite decent and no one died eating it.
That astonished me, since I’d always thought that being able to cook anything more complex than instant noodles required years and years of study and you had to start age age three or something.
I learnt instead that cooking is simply looking up a recipe on the Internet and following instructions. It did make me feel a bit cheated for having always thought that people who can cook are demi-gods. (Maybe they were before the Internet but not now.)
A few weeks ago, the nursery I was interning at threw me in the kitchen with three toddlers and said, “Today you bake bread with the children.”
“Excuse me?” was my immediate thought.
But I wanted to make a good impression so I said, instead, “Yes, please!”
Then, “Um… I’ve never baked anything in my life.”
I was given verbal instructions and then thrown into the deep end.
I managed to wing it. My toddlers didn’t realise I was clueless as they were too busy grating cheese and trying to eat it all up.
In under an hour, we had bread and it was good and tasty.
I was stunned by the ease of breadmaking and that was without a breadmaker. Which made me realise that actually expanding my cooking talent beyond bak kwa and instant noodles was a delicious possibility.
On the first week of my summer break (right after my time at the nursery), our oven door at home completely broke off, so Piers had to buy a new oven.
I wanted to use the oven right away to bake something, never mind I didn’t have all the ingredients and tools necessary. I simply searched for the most basic cake recipe, then whisked up a batter using a fork, and made a baking pan out of kitchen foil.
It’s called hot milk sponge cake and supposed to be light and fluffy, I think. But what came out the oven tasted and felt more like a Chinese steamed egg cake. Which was actually fine too because I love that cake.
Except it was too sweet, so I looked up many more recipes of random cakes and found that they all prescribed similarly lethal amounts of sugar. I think Internet recipes must be written by children.
But I had made it.
I had baked a whole cake from scratch and the achievement was addictive.
Two days later, I bought proper cake ingredients and made a vanilla poppy seed cake, which ended up with an overpowering vanilla taste because I had trouble measuring out 1/8 of a teaspoon of vanilla extract (I quartered the recipe since I didn’t want to bake a cake for 16 people).
Apart from the vanilla overdose, it was quite a good cake.
And I made some bread for our breakfast the next day. But the dry yeast made my skin prickle and hairs stand. The tiny long grains have the ability to stand up on their own (like if you were to run a magnet over iron filings).
Unfortunately, I’m incapable of taking a photograph of it because even thinking about it makes my skin prickle.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, never mind, it’s not important.
What’s important is that maybe, by the time school starts again, I will have fine-tuned my baking skills to perfection and will then be able to bribe my lecturers into overlooking the fact that I haven’t done any homework at all.
I hope they like cake.
Great plan, isn’t it?