It’s my belief that you can learn anything from a book, if the book is good enough.
I fancy brain surgery, but in the absence of a decent book, I baked a cake. I have a book for that.
The book called it “The best Mississippi Mudcake” and it might have been true. I’ll never know. Now I need three more books: How to improvise; How to clean up the kitchen; How to read recipes.
Possibly one called How to be a bachelor would be good, too.
Buying the ingredients was easy. Chocolate, butter, strong black coffee, flour, bicarbonate of soda (I looked that up on Google to be sure I wasn’t making a bomb), port and brandy.
I felt right at home. I only needed half a cup of port for the cake. The rest of the bottle calmed my nerves later.
“Grease and line a 23cm cake tin”. Uh-huhâ€¦ I have a cake tin. It was in the cupboard when I moved in. I think the previous tenant left it behind when he fell on his cake knife. But I don’t have a ruler. And anyway, I’m an inch person. How do you convert 23cm to inches without a ruler?
Then, place the coffee, butter and chocolate in a saucepan and melt.
Except that I don’t have a saucepan. I have The saucepan. It triples as The frying pan, The mixing bowl and, when I’m feeling really slack, The plate.
Okay, so they’re melted.
Sift in flour and bicarb (it didn’t explode, to my relief). But â€¦ I’ve run out of room. There’s only one of me, so it’s a small saucepan â€“ certainly not big enough to hold a 23cm cake, even before it’s risen (assuming it does).
There is only one container in this house big enough to hold the cake mixture â€“ the plastic bin that holds the flour.
The only problem is â€“ it’s holding the flour.
I transfer the flour. But see the previous couple of paragraphs. The only other thing capable of holding the flour is a plastic bag.
I need a book that explains how to hold open a plastic bag with one hand while pouring flour into it from a large plastic bin with the other. I did it over the sink, which I thought was shrewd, because I didn’t want flour all over the floor. But the sink had water in it, the plastic bag had a hole in it and now I have water all over the flour.
Never mind, the cake is progressing.
Now I have to beat the eggs together for 30 seconds.
But the biggest thing in the house (besides the bath) is now full of cake mixture, and the saucepan is still dirty from melting the ingredients, and the next biggest item is a cup.
You can’t beat eggs in a cup without getting them on the walls. I’m an authority on the subject now.
I finished eventually, and I still have some mixture left, although I have my doubts it will fill a 23cm tin. And I still have to make the icing, but I’ll wait and see how the cake turns out. I’ve just noticed the book says to turn the oven on before you start, and I didn’t. What difference will that make I wonder?
I’m not sure I’m ready for brain surgery. I don’t have a decent book; and it’s harder to find the ingredients.