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Call me Cake Boss

November 5, 2011

My German Choco-Lalla Cake. It tasted a lot better than it looked.

Baking the birthday cake was a roller coaster, a nail-biting, anxious afternoon squatting over the coal pot.  The Choco-Lalla proved to be a great substitute for cocoa (of course the store they took Krista to in Monrovia didn’t have any) and I mixed until I thought my arm would fall off.  When’s the last time you worked up a sweat stirring something?  Oof.  It was worth it, though.  It was smooth and fluffy and actually looked like cake batter.

I stoked the fire and excitedly filled the first pan.  While it baked I dug out the hammer and cracked the coconut for the topping.  There was an unusual amount of sizzling coming from the coal pot so I went to investigate.  I’d over filled the pan and it was oozing out all over.  Sigh.  Good thing I had enough batter to make three more rounds.  K and I devoured it for lunch (just like hot brownies!) and I put on another pan while I kept peeling and grating the coconut.

K and I got distracted talking and the fire burned down.  I took the cake off so I could stoke it back up and it cooled enough to fall.  It never bounced back.  It also would not come out of the pan!  Ok.  I can still make two more, I thought, holding my breath.  The third one didn’t quite rise all the way, and then wouldn’t come out of the pan either.

By this time a heated football match was happening in the front yard.  Just as I was putting the last pan on the fire with a prayer the ball flew through K’s wash and bounced off the coal pot.  Tired, ashy, and anxious, I snapped.

“Real football players can control where the ball goes!” I screamed.  “Go home!  You can have the ball tomorrow!”  I stomped inside and threw it in a box.  “Very mature, Bekka,” I thought, realizing my mistake as soon as it happened, but still too late.  They swarmed the door.  “RB!  I beg!” they pleaded, giving the half-hearted salute.  “Gbao!” I shook my head and returned to my post fanning the coals.  Four hours in and I still didn’t have a cake… just plates and plates of delicious chocolate crumbs.

K walked out and had a quiet conversation with the boys.  I have no idea what she said, but they turned quietly and went home… or at least somewhere else.  Climbing back onto the porch she shot me a glance that said it all.  “Sorry,” I said apologetically.  “Let’s review,” she said.  “You just baked a chocolate cake.  On a coal pot.  In Africa.  Without chocolate.”

“I know.  I know,” I replied.  “But I wanted it to be a good cake… not a good Africa cake.”

I’d finally finished cleaning and grating the coconut and I forced myself to take a deep breath.  Maybe I’d just make a fresh start tomorrow?  But I’d already invested almost five hours of sweat and muscle.  Snap out of it woman!  It doesn’t matter so much how it looks.  Perfectionism is my vice, even in Africa.  It was time to bathe and go to prom (my first!) so I took the last cake off the fire.  It was perfect.  Light.  Springy.  Pulling away from the edges of the pan.

I shook my head at my own ridiculousness and took everything inside, covering it with a lappa.  Take time, white woman.  Distance breeds clarity and there were 85 drunk, horny, “kids” waiting for me on campus.

…and I hadn’t written my speech!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2012 2:54 pm

    Looks delicious!! Congrats B!

  2. January 12, 2012 12:43 am

    The fact you cooked a cake that looks that good in a coal pot is absolutely amazing.

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