Pumpkin Soup

a weblog with an allotment attached

31 July 2007

The gods of baking fart in my face…

This weekend we were visited by friends who have never seen our home in Birmingham. I wanted to do something special for them, but first we had to give the entire house a really good clean and tidy because we knew they would want the grand tour. It took the best part of a day to make the place respectable so I knew I wouldn’t have much time to do anything exciting food-wise.

I decided to make the chocolate courgette loaf that has now been enjoyed (sometimes forcibly) by many of our friends. If you’ve still not made it then I urge you to give it a go. Best of all, if you wrap it in foil, keep it somewhere cool and leave it for about five days before you eat it, it matures gorgeously and the earthy taste deepens. Try it slightly warmed with a blob of creme fraiche. Plus, it’s ridiculously easy to make. So, a sure-fire winner and not complicated enough to lead to culinary disasters.

Or so I thought.

I started by getting all the right ingredients out of the pantry to find that we had only a fraction of the amount of plain flour required. No problem, thinks I, I’ll use self-raising and omit the raising agents from the recipe. A doddle!

Then I came to prepare the ingredients and discovered that in tidying up the kitchen before starting baking I had put the grater into the dishwasher and turned it on. No courgette grating for another 40 minutes then. Still, I can be almost patient when absolutely required to be, so I had a cup of tea and a sit down while I waited.

Once the dishes had finished, I retrieved my grater and finely grated the courgettes (this is a pretty yukky part of the process) and thought I would be able to continue without incident. I started to mix together the flour and sugar and courgettes only to hear a fizz and a bang followed by mixer silence.

I was seriously tempted to give up at this point, but I am not the kind of cook who is deterred by electrical faults, oh no. Valiantly I tried to mix the ingredients with a wooden spoon, but soon gave that up as a bad job because it was too stiff for my weak little arms to cope with. Again I was tempted to give up, but having overcome ingredient shortage, grater inaccessibilty and blown fuses, I was sure I could find a way around my own wimpishness. I had a brainwave and fished out our hand held blender to smoosh the mixture with – result! Smooth, creamy mixture, looking exactly as it should. It all progressed very nicely after that.

Until I poured the mixture into the cake tin and found that it only filled about two thirds of its usual volume. There’s a reason why cake recipes do not usually suggest that you combine the ingredients with a blender and that reason is called AIR. Damn. The loaf wasn’t going to rise and I was going to end up with an inedible chocolate lump. Still, I had come this far and had not been bested by the wrong flour, utensil unavailability, equipment failure, or lack of muscle so I certainly wasn’t going to give up. Stubborn? I have no idea what you mean.

The loaf went into the oven and I started to time it. Having used up all my patience waiting for the grater, I periodically checked the progress of the loaf through the glass of the oven door. The light bulb inside the oven doesn’t work so this involves shining a torch in through the glass and crawling about on the floor in order to try to get the best possible angle. What I saw was worrying.

Instead of staying resolutely gloopy and unleavened as I had feared, my cake mixture climbed and rose and threatened to explode out of the tin. It inflated and puffed and grew. Never before has this cake risen so much. I had visions of it pushing the oven door open and chasing me out of the kitchen in some kind of chocolate courgette version of The Blob. Damn that self-raising flour!

And the outcome? Well, it’s all a bit of an anti-climax after the histrionics of making the bloody thing – it turned out just fine. Tastes great and our guests enjoyed it. Which just proves how important it is to be persistent in the face of setbacks.

The gods of baking may have farted in my face, but I farted right back at them.

Filed under: Mulch,Recipes - Non-soup — Clare @ 6:24 pm


2 responses

  1. Sara

    What a fabulously funny story. Thanks for sharing it. My courgettes are now growing after the flooding we have had so I look forward to making your courgette and chocolate loaf soon.
    Sara from farmingfriends

    (31.07.07 @ 6:59 pm)

  2. Clare

    Sara – thank you. I do hope you enjoy the loaf after I’ve built it up so much.

    (31.07.07 @ 7:15 pm)

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