19 September 2008

I'm not giving up the day job

Last night I thought I'd do something I never ever do. Something that is an everyday, no big deal event to a lot of folk. What was I thinking? Why - I'd make a cake. To be precise, a birthday cake. Not just any old birthday cake, but one with no sugar and minimal fat - better for me (I can have a tiny slice, can't I?) and a surprise treat for my lovely hubby... or so I thought.

Just one of many things I hadn't factored into this equation - I'm absolutely crap at cake-making. No, I mean really, really crap. Abysmally crap, in fact. But hey, I'm filled with new-found optimism, or maybe I just have a selective memory or something, so I went ahead anyway.

Obstacle No. 1 - the recipe. Well, I looked on the web and didn't really find a sugar free cake recipe I liked the look of (or thought I could manage - hell, but some of them look intimidating!). So, I improvised a bit and, er, 'adapted' a recipe for a chocolate and almond cake to cook in a microwave. I'd thought to myself that microwaving must surely be easier than worrying whether I had the right oven temperature. Hmm, a tactical error, I think.

Obstacle No. 2 - shopping for the bits I needed. Sugar substitute (tick), low fat spread (tick), cocoa powder, unsweetened... oh, where the heck am I going to find that? Two stores down (loads of instant hot chocolate but no good old-fashioned cocoa) but the third actually has some (so... tick). Chocolate for the topping... ah, that rather blows the fat and sugar free idea, but what the hell. Rest of the stuff is fairly basic so I can get myself home and start.

Obstacle No. 3 - a cake tin. Or rather a cake 'not tin', indeed, not metal at all. This is a major obstacle. You forgot you were microwaving the thing stoopid! Time to improvise. Haven't got a circular flat dish so use the square vegetable bowl. OK, it's a bit deep, with sloping sides and the cake'll look like a pyramid with the top sliced off but that's modern... isn't it?

Whizzy, whizzy, let's get busy and I weigh, mix, pour and pop in the microwave for the specified four minutes. Not looking good - it's not cooked in the centre. In for a bit longer... sides are getting a bit overdone and the middle is still soggy. Zap for still longer (while crossing fingers and toes) and it finally looks sort of OK... ish, so out it comes. When I turn it out it's kind of dense... and not very thick. In fact the middle is rather less thick than the rest, with a noticeable dip. And it still looks a bit soggy in the middle to me - but I can't put it back in for yet more time!

Oh well, let it cool, decorate with that fat-free (er, much throat clearing and looking away) chocolate and decorate with a few almonds. It doesn't really look the way I hoped, but it is almost recognisable as a cake... in low light. I'd post a photo but I don't want you all to be jealous - tee hee.

Decide not to present it as a surprise on the big day, but show hubby when he gets in. If he wants to laugh, that's fine - after all, I'm having a great deal of difficulty keeping a straight face. He is really kind about it and doesn't roll on the floor. Neither of us are willing to try it yet though. We may try tonight. Then again, we may decide to go out and sink the neighbourhood ducks.


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