I recently spent about ten days at my childhood home in Northern California. Not technically a vacation because I took my office with me and worked from there, but when you go to the beach almost every day, or at least get to see it while running errands, it sure makes working every day a lot more tolerable.
One of the downsides to living in such a beautiful, remote location with lots of trees and offshore winds is the occasional loss of electricity. It happened while we were there; in the middle of my shift, in fact. I borrowed a neighbor's generator and got a couple more hours of work in before the phone line went out and I had no choice but to give up the rest of my shift.
So the electricity is out, but I have a cake to bake for a get-together the next day. Thankfully Mom has a propane stove, so I'm thinking, "No problem -- I'll just hand-mix my ingredients."
Before I get too far into this project I realize the sun is about to set. We're within earshot of the ocean, very close. So we jump in the car and drive down the road to the nearest accessible cliff to watch...
When we get home, my husband crafts a little lamp shade for one of his LED flashlights so I can keep an eye on the melting chocolate.
What I don't realize yet is what I've planned to bake -- Marcy Goldman's Truffle Cake from The Best of BetterBaking.com -- requires a LOT of mixing. I mean, a LOT. I start out with a hand whisk, but as I'm rummaging around Mom's kitchen looking for utensils, I find a battery-operated hand mixer. Perfect.
Except it's taking for-EV-er for the five eggs to "triple in volume." I mean, for-EV-er.
After a while I decide it's good enough, and enlisting my husband to help, I give him the task of holding the flashlight and slowly pouring hot corn syrup and sugar into the eggs while I continue mixing.
Unfortunately my little hand mixer isn't quite up to the task, and the sugar hardens before I can get it incorporated into the eggs.
So my blackout baking experiment was a failure, and I had a huge mess in a dark kitchen, with only limited amounts of water for washing dishes. I put as much as I could in the dishwasher and saved the rest for the next day, when (hopefully) power would be restored.
Luckily I still had melted chocolate that hadn't been sacrificed to the corn syrup debacle, and the next morning after the electricity had been restored, I tried again. And I'm happy to report, it was a success.
I made three small cakes from one recipe. One I took to the friend who requested the cake in the first place; one I took to the neighbor who loaned me her generator; and the third I took to share with my dad when we went out to dinner our last night in town. And yes, similar to cork fees, there was a "cake fee" of $2.50 each. But I'm guessing something as decadent as this truffle cake would have cost double that.
Next time the electricity goes out I'll stick to something that's easily mixed by hand, like cookies.