|The saddest cake ever?|
"Wow," Prati said, twirling into the kitchen where her sister and I were cleaning up, her eyes alight with sarcastic mischief. "How amazing!" She mimicked the cadence of a video in Cayden's "distract him so he'll sit still" repertoire. "Overcoming obstacles in Beawar to bake a cake -- no proper mixing bowls or anything!"
Dunkin Donuts muffin. Photo Credit: graciepoo via Flicker
I found a basic yellow cake recipe on Epicurious and convinced the sisters that they were going to help me make it happen. The following morning, Priti set to work, sending her family servant to find the ingredients that weren't in the house. We borrowed a hand mixer from across the street. Before I knew what was happening, Priti had a whole setup on the kitchen floor and I had lost control of my project. She started measuring and adding ingredients into a pan in a way that looked disconcertingly haphazard.
"If this doesn't work, it's your fault," I told her.
"Ah," she said, "but it's your recipe."
But it wasn't, really. We couldn't use eggs in their mom's vegetarian kitchen, so we substituted bananas, turning yellow cake into banana cake from the get go. And, I was told, there was no buttermilk available, so they were substituting yogurt. There was no vanilla either, though there was a spice freshly ground in the mortar.
"This we will substitute," Priti said. "It's a spice you use in America a lot, no?"
I took a whiff: cinnamon. Which is not at all vanilla extract. OK then. My grand cake-making plan found me relegated to sifting, onto newspaper on the floor, the dry stuff that somebody else selected and measured.
Anyway, the ingredients got combined and put into an "oven" that sat atop the burner. And in the end, we ended up with a slightly burned, sad-looking little cake that didn't fill its pan. But it felt like cake and tasted like cinnamon and bananas. And I guess, when attempting to kick a hint of homesickness by baking a cake, ending up with one suffices.