Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chapter 1: In which an oven got its settings and cassiopeia chocolate cake was born

Emily and Kate were friends in Baltimore.  They lived right around the corner from one another and were very best friends.  One day, while pouring soy milk over her cereal in Kate's kitchen, Emily exclaimed, "I think I'll be a vegan."  Kate, knowing Emily was prone to such random morning outbursts, replied with a yawn followed by, "Okay.  When should we start?"  Emily, encouraged by her friend's willingness to join her on her latest fad, decided they should start right away.
And so they did.  Mornings turned into evenings and then back into mornings.  Emily was enjoying being a vegan, but was also feeling discouraged.  She wanted to have cake.  She tried some at the local vegetarian restaurant.  Full of nuts, seeds, and berries, It was nearly inedible.  "This is cake?"  No way.  "Kate, what will we do?  We can't live like this."
The girls quickly gathered some recipes and tools and began baking in Kate's kitchen.  Kate's kitchen was narrow, but well equiped.  The sink was an old ceramic type and the rickety old oven had a temperature dial...without numbers.  When they turned on the oven, they had no idea what temperature they had turned it to.  This would surely lead to some interesting cake disasters.
They started with chocolate cake.  The first recipe they tried was terrible.  Assuming it was the fault of the oven, they tried again.  And again.  Finally, they decided it was not a good recipe.  So they changed it.  When it came out too dry, they changed it again.  In a very slow and painful way, they were teaching themselves the science behind baking.  Without having the internet to look up answers, they plodded on with their experiments, taking notes along the way.  Distracted only by Anthroplogie apron designs, the girls mixed and poured and baked every evening after work.  After many coffee soaked nights, they finally had something good.  Really good.  Emily and Kate invited the neighbors and celebrated the birth of this brand new baby cake till late in the evening.  They named it Cassiopeia.
Then, very carefully, they drew a line next to the numberless oven dial.  Next to the line they wrote the word "cake."  From then on, when they wanted to bake cassiopeia cake, they would turn the oven to this setting.  In the months to come, they would make many more cassiopeia chocolate cakes in that rickety old oven.  Hundreds, even.
Cassiopeia Chocolate Cake with chocolate creamcheese frosting
cassiopeia chocolate cake with chocolate "creamcheese" frosting

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