Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Russian Dense Delight

I baked a chocolate cake today… ahem… actually it was a Russian Dense Delight cake with almonds and walnuts. Much before an MBA made me smarter at BS, one of the first things I learnt in my job as a Software engineer was that very often ‘a bug could be sold as a feature’. Yet earlier Mommy had taught a young and impressionable me the art of how a fried egg gone all wrong could actually be a scrambled egg gone all right. Coupled with the right expressions it just worked perfectly. ‘Hey I thought I heard you say scrambled; fried, sunny-side up, was it? Sorry!’ was the only additional garnishing required.

But the real reason that my creation became the Russian-dense-delight-with-nuts is lesser to do with a personal process goof-up and more to do with the place I stay in. The Millennium city, as it is known for some unfathomable reasons, loses power for about 8 hours a day, has an irregular water supply, has little or no public infrastructure to talk about, and crumbling roads that wash away every few months. Legend has it that the Administration is actually extremely dedicated to development and almost dying to provide better roads, 24x7 electricity and all the fancy works, but is terrified that doing so would contrast horribly with the name of the town. They’re worried that they may be inviting unnecessary judicial action and found guilty of willful deception by providing sheher like amenities in what is decidedly a semantic gaon. They’ve pleaded with the residents to consider changing the name to Gursheher to allow for consistency with their plans of development, but then the residents of the town took enough and more time in getting to learn how to spell the name of the town (or visually recognizing it on a board without actually spelling it), and are in no mood for an iteration in unlearning and learning. Meanwhile, the Legend continues, the Administration is churning out wonderful butter smooth roads but rolling them up and storing them in a warehouse alongwith drums and drums of 24x7 power supply waiting for the impasse to end and being allowed to comply with their karmic duties.

So much for the Legend… back to my cake.

As anyone who’s ever baked a cake in life would understand, it’s a fairly skilled trade. In particular, the actual baking has to be considered akin to being pregnant. As many people who bake cakes are likely to become pregnant (though not on account of baking cakes, of course!), I’m sure this point is well understood. You really cannot spread the 0-9 months of a pregnancy over a 2 year period in short and comfortable intervals of 2 months at a time. Similarly the cake begs to be oven-ed for 45 mins in one single stretch and the observant bystander or the anxious creator can almost sense the mix of emotions within the cake as it strives to achieve baked adulthood from a tumultuous batterhood – experience its troubled teen equivalents with acne like liquid bubbles gently settling in and creating their permanent place in life; participate in the cake’s equivalent of young adulthood – the tiny fissures in the surface becoming wrinkles of experience; and finally delight in its acquiring maturity – developing of the crust of wisdom over the soft heart of pure potential within. Ah! And the smell of perfection – of a parenthood gone right and your little baby all grown, now standing in front of you in all the finery of sensibility and handsomeness rolled up into one.

But my chocolate-nuts cake wasn’t to be so. Baked in sporadic bursts of 10 minutes with ominous blackout intervals stretching into hours, it was the chocolate prodigy which was never to be. To be fair, it yearned – every single interval of temperature opportunity – it sought to rise to the expectations of my hopeful eyes outside the glass partition. But eventually youth ran out and maturity set it. And my silent pleas didn’t work. I didn’t have the doctor/engineer offspring I had planned on. My child was ‘differently abled’.

The proof of the pudding – said the wise men – lies in the taste. My Chocolate-Nut cake christened Russian Dense Delight was sliced amongst a fairly diverse group of connoisseurs of fine food later in the evening. Amongst exclaims of ooohs and aaaha and ‘you have to tell us!!’ and ‘how rich and fullish!’ and ‘my my, what texture!” I was mobbed for the recipe of the scrambled egg that started life as a fried sunny-side-up. I didn’t flinch a facial muscle as I gravely prescribed the mandated heating pattern. ‘Exactly 10 minutes at 180 Fahrenheit and then a cool off for about an hour and a half. Repeat exactly 4 times. You get it wrong, and you’ll lose the texture. Yes, yes, it’s not really an easy bake, I know.’

Hell, just bake it in Gurgaon. You can’t get it wrong!


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  2. sorry! a typo there...i was saying, u shd be glad that even a 'stillborn' was sooo appreciated...great going!