It’s 12.30am and, though I’m a bit of a nightowl and an insomniac, even I don’t normally stay up this late on a school night. But, like an idiot, I’m waiting for a cake. There are two reasons for this.
First, since my friend and colleague Ed very kindly showed me how to take pictures with my camera in low light (most of my blog photos are taken on weekend mornings by a window…) and is leaving on Friday, I thought I’d bake him a cake. I came home all excited at the prospect of being able to take pictures at night for a change and full of my baking plans.
Off I went at 9.30pm, making a relatively straightforward apple cake from Ottolenghi. It needed two egg whites whisking and adding just before going into the oven and, rather than make both the mixer and food processor dirty, I thought I’d whisk the whites with a hand-held whisk. For some reason they just wouldn’t take. So then I gave in and put them in the food processor. Still they wouldn’t go. Irritated and tired by now, and contemplating an ever-increasing pile of washing up, I realised that perhaps I needed to put the whites in a smaller mixer, since there were only two of them. The mini-processor came out and, hurrah, they began to turn thick and white.
But something about them didn’t seem quite right and when I removed the whisk I noticed that they had already separated again. I sniffed them…you know how you think bad eggs should smell like a school science lab? Well, they don’t. They smell slightly, well, more eggy. They are, were, in date, organic, free-range, all of the required things a middle-class foodie expects. However, they were from Lidl and half the price of a box from Waitrose. I think I may be giving up on this particular false economy. And, of course, I had no more.
Since by now it was about 11pm I had two choices, no three. Abandon the cake completely (tempting but wasteful). Go to the corner shop, buy some more eggs and start again (not at all tempting). Or try baking the cake without the egg whites. I went for the third and as I type the cake is, well, very cake-like and risen. I’m not sure I’ll inflict it on anyone else, not until I’ve tried it but, look, not bad is it?
The morals of the story are: don’t be daft and bake at night, however excited you are about taking pictures (not unless you have plenty of spare ingredients), stick to posher suppliers for your eggs, but don’t throw the cake out with the whites, not always…