I’m not really a natural when it comes to baking. My husband, on the other hand, instinctively knows things like how to separate egg yolks from the whites or what temperature the oven should actually be on even when the recipe says 180˚C. We cook very differently: He follows recipes to the letter, even if it asks him to do something illogical, while I like to experiment; he uses a rolling pin, I pummel things flat with my fist.
He often stands around the kitchen while I’m cooking, offering suggestions such as, “Maybe it would help if you actually switched the stove on”, or “TURN THE POWER OFF BEFORE YOU OPEN THE BLENDER OR YOU’LL CUT YOUR WHOLE HAND OFF!”, or, “Please take the baby to the balcony while I put out that fire you seem to have started in the oven”. Before we were married I explained to him that I was not going to be anything like [Perfect Wife A] or [Perfect Wife B], so I don’t feel like I’m letting him down by being a dunce in this regard; he was warned.
Having said all of that, I still bake. Like a baby who thinks falling is fun because he’s always caught by his loving parents, I am encouraged by my husband/coach hovering nearby with ready advice and fireman skills to try and try again. So I decided to make shortbread. “You know shortbread is one of the hardest things to bake, don’t you?” said my husband. I didn’t; the recipe was in the 4 Ingredients cookbook! It couldn’t possibly be that difficult.
So I launch in and blend the ingredients together and when the mixture seems a little too buttery add a little more flour and a little more icing sugar while my husband looks on in disgust (“Are you even measuring that?!”), and then I add a little more flour again and then I pummel the dough flat, cut out heart shapes, chuck the tray in the oven and set the timer. Throughout this process I’m singing a song I’ve made up for the occasion called 'I am the Baking Queen' to the tune of a Pirates of Penzance classic. The recipe says they’ll take 30 minutes, but I sneak a peek at 15 and see that they’re already looking golden and ready, so I take them out.
You’re expecting a disaster but this is a tale of victory, my friends:
Best. Shortbread. EVERRRRRRRR.
It was after the third successful batch weeks later that one of the little voices in my head started insinuating that perhaps I was not in fact a superb baker but that my husband had been wrong about the difficulty level of shortbread-making. But I don’t really like that voice (we’ve never got on that well). I choose instead to listen to the other voice, the kinder one, who still sings with me:
I am the baking queen!(You are, hurrah for the baking queen!)And it is, it is a glorious thing to be the baking queen!(It is, hurrah for the baking queen, hurrah for the bakiiiiiing queen!)
Thank you, thank you very much.
Anyone want some biscuits?