I’m not usually one to conform to stereotypes but when I got married I thought I’d embrace my wifely duties by becoming somewhat domestic in the kitchen and learning to bake.
Let me give you some perspective on the effort entailed in this decision – I cannot cook and did not own a whisk, mixing bowl, apron or any other baking paraphernalia. My friend Lauren does little to hide the fact she is appalled that I buy ready-made mash and pre-chopped frozen onions.
I love food and would happily dine out every night if my bank account was willing (and a babysitter employed) or sit back and watch someone else conjure some magic in the kitchen of an evening but the fact is neither I nor Mr B can cook – in nine years I have only once encountered his cooking “skills” – a one-pot recipe from a student book that took him so long to make that I’d drunk an entire bottle of white wine to myself in the process and would have happily eaten the carpet.
I'm lazy – anything that takes longer than heating a bowl of pasta and dolloping a spoonful of pesto on it is wasted on me. I will have eaten half the ingredients if they aren’t cooked and on the table within 15 minutes.
I’m also horribly stubborn and an incredibly bad loser – if something goes wrong once, I’ll never make it again. Nigella’s Thai curry of 2012 was a watery inedible disaster, I obviously cannot read or she lied and bought her sauce from Uncle Ben.
Thankfully though a kind colleague at work gave me an easy peasy brownie recipe to begin my baking quest, which was a hit – I don’t know the difference between whisking/beating/folding so I generally turn my Asda handblender to the highest speed and hope for the best. (I employ the same tactic with the oven – whack it on high and then it’ll cook faster).
I have since progressed to a Mary Berry carrot cake (another, bung it all in a bowl and mix, jobby) and a plum and apple pudding, which have so far not made anyone barf. The courgette and cheese muffins for Mini B were sadly a disaster and can only be compared to lumps of coal – the loyal son that he is, has managed to nibble the corner of a few though.
Next on the list was Mini B’s birthday cake. Unlike the little gang of bakers extraordinaire at my office, I dodged the parental obligation (ie, impossibility) to create a Masters Degrees in Baking pirate ship or tyrannosaurus rex out of multi-coloured sponge and icing and went with this recommended Davina McCall (a cooking author? Who knew?) Victoria sponge made without refined sugar (Mr B's face translated to "WTF?" when told this) with some cocoa powder bunged in to disguise it as sumptuous chocolate marvel. It could have been a cake for any old day really but the candles cleverly transforrmed it into a birthday masterpiece. With a back-up bought from Waitrose in the cupboard, obviously.