Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Whipping Boy

The other day, having bought a small packet of strawberries at the price of a small ingot of gold at a Chennai market, I summoned up enough enthusiasm to make a strawberry shortcake. In my younger days, as an amateur baker, I had quite a reputation for making cakes -- resulting once in four visiting friends demolishing a strawberry cake by the simple expedient of only making 90 degree cuts.

This time we decided that there being only two of us, and living in Velacheri, that too on a road which has the appearance of slightly beaten up Sea of Tranquility crater on the moon, with little chance of anyone visiting, we would slowly work through the cake over a period of a few days.

The first part was easy. The sponge cake, made from my old bible The Joy of Cooking (which had lost its last few pages which was the index) was a breeze. I realised that I had lost nothing of my original talent. :-) It was soft, spongy and beautifully browned on top.

The cream was the next hurdle. The only kind available in any supermarket nearby was the tetrapack version that Amul sells which it calls Fresh Cream. Having occasionally beaten a cream to death (in other words beating it till the butter came out in big clods) I bought a spare packet in case of disasters. I need not have bothered.

The whipping, with an electric egg-beater, started at 7.15pm on a weekday soon after we had returned from work. At 7.30pm, I gave up and my wife took it up. Around 7.45pm she gave it back to me. At 7.50pm the motor gave a small groan and gave up the ghost, a slight acrid smell of burning plastic testifying to the finality of the situation. And the cream? What about it -- it continued in its pristine state (it did not even turn to butter).

At this point I poured the cream qua cream over the sponge cake (which had been neatly divided into two layers in the hope that we would make a layered cake). I carefully decorated the top with cut strawberries and there it was - somewhat the worse for wear, the (unwhipped) cream having soaked right through, but it tasted quite nice. After all why shouldn't it -- sponge cake, cream, sugar, strawberries - all necessary ingredients for a successful dessert if not in the right format :)

Oh! Before I forget -- anyone know how to make a strawberry shortcake without running through a beater each time? It might help my finances a bit... (something tells me getting proper whipping cream might help....but in Chennai?)


Rahul Siddharthan said...

I think you get canned whipped cream in some of the supermarkets that cater to expats -- Five Star, Amma Naana etc. You do get a wide range of imported stuff in these places. Also there's a new place in Besant Nagar called Mercado that you could try. That is, if ingots of gold aren't in short supply with you.

Venkataraman said...

What about the mixie? Is that too hard on cream?

L said...

I have found that the tetrapack variety will not get whipped in a mixie either. Best thing is to buy full fat milk, boil,chill, skim the cream and whip, but then, you can't keep your cake for three days. Also, what will you do with all the milk--maybe make payasam next day.

Rahul Basu said...

Rahul S: Thanks for your suggestions. Odd that as the self touted largest producer of milk in the world (so I am told) we have to go to these expat stores to buy something as simple as whipping cream, at over the top prices...after all one is not asking for Reblochon or some fancier variety of cheese.

I recall that the heavy cream available in the US I could even whip with a fork!! Perhaps one needs to go to Delhi or Chandigarh - the milk centres of the country....

And no the mixie does not help either.

L: In this day and age, one would like to reduce one's work with all these labour saving devices! At this rate one will need a Jersey cow tethered in one's backyard (in my case the balcony :-) )

Encouraging to see that my light hearted post has produced all these comments :-) :-)

Anant said...

You did not say if anyone landed up to polish off the cake, OLO?!

Rahul Basu said...

We did, heh! heh!!

sunder and sonati said...

"resulting once in four visiting friends demolishing a strawberry cake by the simple expedient of only making 90 degree cuts.": I remember that! Drool! And did you have a second edition stashed away that day, to demolish, after all of us left?

I can offer you whippable cream here; so if you bring strawberries, then we can all indulge :-)