There’s nothing like baking to make a place feel (and smell) homey. I was so proud when I successfully baked banana bread, despite the inscrutable dials on our oven and lacking measuring spoons.
Too proud, it turns out, because the goddesses of domesticity decided to punish me for my hubris.
It began with good intentions (which I hear pave a certain road). I wanted to bake oatmeal raisin cookies for my Serving the Divine Plan group, which meets every Monday night to get our spirituality on. By the time I started, I was already tired from cooking several pounds of my special peanut noodles, but I was determined. Three mistakes ensued.
- THE EGG. The batter seemed too dry. “Hm,” I thought to myself, “maybe the eggs here are smaller than at home.” I stared at an egg. It looked small. I cracked a third egg into the batter. Now, I know cooking can be an art, but baking must be a science. Exact proportions of ingredients are key to success. I knew it was wrong to add that egg, but knowing and knowing are very different.
- THE COOKIE SHEET. After dolloping my gooey, lumpy batter onto a cookie sheet, I ran into my second obstacle. The sheet did not fit into our oven. Now, why we have a cookie sheet that can never be used is way beyond me. My flatmate Deirdre, amused by my consternation, helped me to transfer the batter to two smaller sheets.
- THE HEAT. I had been preheating the oven for an hour (yeah, I know). This was unintentional; I’m just a very slow baker. By the time I was ready, the oven had reached a temperature somewhere between a kiln and foundry. The racks inside had turned a threatening red. In fact, even the oven dials were scorching hot. Concerned about burning down my apartment building, I shut it off to let it cool down. And then tried to turn it back on. Nothing happened. I tried again. Nope. Desperate, I sunk to my haunches, fiddling madly with the dials, a protective dishrag wrapped around my fingers, to no avail.
“I broke it,” I whined to Deirdre. “I told you I break everything I touch.” When she tried to comfort me but couldn’t help but chortle at my fiasco, I played stoic. “There are worse tragedies in the world than me not being able to make my cookies,” I said. She paused to genuinely consider this point, then convinced me to use the neighbors’ oven. I did. She recommended putting all the dough on two sheets to make two giant cookies. I did.
This was the result. Please keep in mind that I was aiming for 30 cookies.
In the words of Prospero, “This thing of darkness, I acknowledge mine.” I’m still trying to figure out what utensil to use with my thing of darkness. A small jackhammer would be useful.
Seriously, who else sets out to bake cookies and ends up breaking the oven?
Postscript: No worries, the oven has been repaired. I plan to bake some brownies soon–at a very low heat.