Me against the elements

There’s taking things too far and there’s taking things too far. This story falls into the second, more literal category. But at least it has a happy ending:

The well-travelled cake

The well-travelled cake

I was merrily creaming butter and sugar in preparation for this, Nigel Slater’s lush peach and blueberry cake. My wilted peaches, the cake’s raison d’être, sat expectantly on the kitchen surface. They were in urgent need of a botox injection but settling for some oven-based TLC. Then, as I twiddled the oven dials to warm it up to receive my culinary efforts, it became apparent that nothing would get baked that day.

I’m no stranger to temperamental elements going ele-mental, nor to the heartache they can cause the keen cook. I knew then with grim certainty that me and the oven would be out of action for a good two weeks. I would have two weeks to apportion blame, wondering forlornly whether one can cook too much and overwhelm a kitchen appliance, or whether said appliances are primed like bombs to self-destruct at regular (in my case six-month) intervals for the manufacturer’s pecuniary delectation. Now was the time for action. I had two severely compromised peaches whose lives only I could save from being futile. I had to do something.

I scraped the creamed butter and sugar into a tupperware and shut the fridge door hastily behind it. The eggs had to be next: glancing around the kitchen, I grabbed a tea towel and bundled them into it, stuffing the package into another tupperware. I lay the peaches next to the muffled eggs, padded them with kitchen roll, then shut the lid and spirited them too to the safety of the fridge. I would have to bide my time on this one.

The next day, the nascent cake came with me on the tube to work: Vauxhall, Pimlico, Claustrophobia, Sweaty Armpit, Oxford Circus, change – YOUR NEXT WESTBOUND CENTRAL LINE TRAIN WILL BE IN THREE MINUTES, PLEASE STAND BEHIND THE YELLOW LINE, MOVE AWAY FROM THE PLATFORM EDGE – Bond Street, Marble Eugh, etc, etc… Together we withstood the thirty minutes of shoving and sweating and standing too close to strangers that is the daily commute.

Once we were in the office, the cake components sat patiently in the fridge for eight hours while I performed the tasks that keep me in cake and tupperwares. That evening, off we went again – taking in two tube lines on a Friday night at rush hour, before emerging at King’s Cross and boarding a train bound for the North.

An hour and a half later, we were at my parents’ house.

‘Did you have a good journey?’ asked my mum.

‘Yes thanks. Is your oven working?’ I replied. Actually, this is a customary exchange in the North between family members who haven’t seen each other for some weeks. (Yes, I’m lying. But you didn’t know for certain, did you?)

The upshot of all this is that, that very night, my long-awaited and yearned-for cake was finally born. And well-received it was too. But the story doesn’t end quite there – we had to do the return journey. Is there a Guinness Book of Records entry for the cake that’s covered the most distance? And if so, would mine topple it?

(A quick footnote to my tale: in case you’re wondering whether I purchased a train ticket home solely to save my cake, I’ll put your mind at rest – I didn’t. You’re reading the blog of a person in possession of all her mental faculties, friends in London who cook, and a bank balance that doesn’t like British Rail-shaped surprises. 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