Diary of a Home Bird
ONCE upon a time I worked as a chef de partie. It was while I was waiting to apply for my Masters, which now seems like a lifetime ago. It was an incredibly worthwhile experience that gave me a strong work ethic and taught me a lot about cooking.
I was in charge of all things savoury, preparing sauces, salads, starters and main courses. However, I tended to steer clear of desserts, as I’m not a huge dessert lover, so I left them to those with more passion for pastries, tartes et al.
The wisdom of this was soundly proven after a debacle in the roomies’ kitchen last week. I don’t know what got it into my head – maybe it was a week on antibiotics and feeling sorry for myself – but I decided I wanted to bake some cupcakes.
Thinking back to the last time I had a date with some cupcake mix and icing, I was fairly confident. (Myself and my partner in crime Rachel rustled up some Red Velvet Cupcakes and Lemon Drizzle Cake recently for a baby shower.) Last week, however, can only be described as an epic failure.
Arriving home with €25 worth of ingredients listed in a Googled recipe, I declared to the female roomie that I was ‘goin’ baking’.
Dusting off the Kenwood, the female roomie remarked that it was a wedding gift to herself and pops nearly 40 years ago. Looking back now, perhaps that was her way of saying it had been through a lot, but this was going to be its ultimate test.
The Googled recipe told me to add all the wet ingredients in first. This included a cup-and-a-half of vegetable oil, which I thought was a bit excessive. First I began to question ‘What size cup?’ … and then, to my horror, realised I forgot the vegetable oil. Thinking I could improvise (which I now realise you cannot ever do in baking) I reached for the Crisp ‘n Dry.
Measuring in cups is fine, but when the recipe began to talk of ounces I stared at the weighing scales confused. In my defence, I’m not great at the aul’ maths. In fact I’m about as good at maths as I am at baking.
Oh, I also ran out of flour. Did I go to the shop and get more? No, no I did not. I just began to reduce the remaining ingredients accordingly. I now realise this does not work. The cupcake mix began to resemble a smoothie.
First batch in the oven, I set about making the buttercream frosting. Disaster was narrowly avoided thanks to Madre, who pointed out that I should be using icing sugar and not caster sugar. Turns out I had forgotten the icing sugar in the shop too, so off I dashed, and while I was there I picked up some more flour, which I added to the two other batches of cupcakes I attempted, hoping to redeem myself.
Long story short, the cupcakes were – how should I put it? – oily balls of red mush. The icing? Well, basically just sweet melted butter.
I threw the cupcakes in the bin the following day. And poor Madre had to use three kettles of boiling water to remove the icing from a bowl.
> In her fortnightly Diary of a Home Bird column, Ciara Galvin reveals the trials and tribulations of a twenty-something year old trying to get used to living away from her parents.