I recently acquired a copy of the new Joy of Cooking. It felt like an important rite of passage. Like now, finally, at 37, I am an adult because I have my own encycleopedic cook book.
Last night we had some friends over and I decided to try out a cake recipe. Something about the design of the book, its mass and solidity and years of collected wisdom, suggest that one couldn’t possibly go wrong making one of its recipes.
I made something called Fresh Coconut Cockaigne Cake, figuring that anything named after drugs had to be good.
To prepare the coconut, I got out all of our tools: a Phillips screwdriver, tack hammer and a screw. James was concerned when I tried to drive the screw in with a hammer. He was even more concerned when the coconut flew across the room after I gave it an ill-aimed blow. When we finally managed to get a hole punched into it and drained out the meagre liquid, I took it downstairs and hit it with the axe a few times. Bloodshed was narrowly averted.
After that, I really went to town, baking-wise. I beat and mixed and sifted and folded and stirred. I made 3 8″ cakes and iced them with Seven Minute Sea Foam Icing. Fifty-Six Minute Sea Foam Icing would be a more accurate name.
When all was said and done, the cake looked okay, if slightly wobbly (due to the raspberry jelly between the layers and the runny consistency of the Fifty-Six Minute Sea Foam Icing). But I figured that any cake that took multiple tools and four hours to make was bound to be spectacular.
I was wrong.
The first clue was the cake’s weight. It probably weighed in at between twenty and thirty pounds. It was dense. Like lead or anti-matter. Only it was sweeter than lead. It was sweeter than just about anything I’ve ever tasted, actually.
James and our guests valiantly ate some of the gigantic pieces I served them. When a cake is three layers, all pieces become huge. It seems that if cocaine were anything like “cockaigne” the drug epidemic would be instantly solved. Sickly sweet lead has a way of filling a person up and I threw out most of the pieces served. We gave our guests some anti-matter to take home and put the rest in the garbage. I’m now having the garbage bin tested for diabetes.
I swore that was it. No more baking for me. But the urge is starting to creep up again. If I were smart, I’d leave the baking to Save-On Foods. But it turns out that baking is a great activity while listening to books on tape. So I may bake again. But I’ll give the fresh coconut a rest. Probably.