I think my English teacher thinks I’m crazy.
I can’t entirely blame him. I have English fourth period, which is pretty close to lunch. It’s really not my fault if I’m hungry in class once in a while.
But I have to admit, it’s pretty weird that I spend every period discussing nothing but food. And it gets weirder when I draw pictures of falafel and bagels.
I’m sorry, Mr. Rosenberg. Next time I’ll bring an orange to eat in class while I annotate poetry, instead of describing the juicy filling of a pork bun.
But the reason I discuss dim sum is simple: I like good food. And I can make it, too, whether I’m churning out chocolate cookies topped with powdered sugar or onion-garlic-and-spice burgers. Cooking isn’t so hard.
Or so I thought. Until, that is, I tried to make vegan cake.
I myself am not a vegan. Lord knows I couldn’t go a week without meat, let alone eggs and dairy. But my family was invited to a dinner party where one of the kids was a vegan, and I was supposed to make a dessert.
Part of the blame goes to my dessert book. It calls itself “The Chocolate and Coffee Bible,” but no baking bible I’ve ever heard of calls for whole wheat flour in dessert. But the bible had served me well before. I figured it couldn’t hurt.
Too bad the whole wheat flour was stale.
After spending three hours mixing, baking and frosting, I was covered in cocoa powder and was the not-quite-so-proud creator of the cake from hell. My mom, kind and sensitive as she is, described it as “foul.”
Thankfully, there was still an hour before the party began. Given my habit for arriving places late (a habit my first period class can vouch for), I could take an hour and a half to bake a second cake, with the aid of a handy sous-chef (my brother).
We rushed through the cake, minimizing unnecessary attention to detail. When we placed the cake on a plate, it had broken in about 50 different areas and was barely held together by icing. It looked like a two-year-old had made it (I blamed my brother). But I had to admit—it was still tasty.
I was bummed about the cake disaster at first. But looking back, the first cookies I ever made were not up to par either. My first chicken curry was bland. Good things never come easy. At least, not the first time around.
So maybe it will take more time to perfect the art of vegan dessert, especially something I don’t make every day. But if I put in that extra effort into getting it right, I’ll appreciate the product much more. My success will ultimately be sweeter.
The only dilemma then is what to do with all the stale cakes along the way.