I just made my family their first-ever batch of cupcakes, which is pretty amazing considering my mother-in-law is 66 years old.
But understandable considering we live in a remote village in Jordan.
And just a little bit dangerous.
My sister-in-law looked quite terrified when I mentioned I’d need to use the oven to bake the cupcakes. The moment she announced it was time to light it, everyone rushed into the kitchen to watch. She ripped a huge piece of cardboard off a box that contained my cooking equipment and lit it. Everyone rushed out of the kitchen, grabbing me by the arm and dragging me with them. I heard a giant POOOF! And she came out looking dishevelled and a bit shocked.
Oh-kay … thanks sis.
Since there are no packet mixes here, I made my cupcakes from scratch. Normally I just grab a Betty Crocker mix and voila! But here things are not so simple.
I started off Googling a simple chocolate cake recipe. It seemed easy enough. I had to ask my sister-in-laws for all of the equipment I needed. This was a little challenging as I only know the Arabic names for common kitchen items, such as glass, and pot. So getting a large mixing bowl was a bit tricky. After lots of broken Arabic and English, many hand gestures and a few games of charades, I had my equipment. Luckily for me I brought kitchen items like a hand-held electric mixer and a cupcake papers.
Cooking in a house filled with 30-odd people is not easy. As soon as I mentioned the word “cake” the kid’s ears pricked up. They were looking over my shoulder as I found a recipe on the iPad. They followed me around as I gathered up my equipment and I had to keep shooing them out of the kitchen as I feared an industrial accident.
Once I started mixing, the brother-in-laws put in their two cent worth, telling me it was too wet, too dry, I needed to mix it more … then my mother-in-law had a look and decided it was not chocolately enough for chocolate cupcakes. I added some more chocolate just to keep her happy. For a family that has never had a cupcake in their lives, they sure knew a lot about baking them!
I had to make 60 cupcakes if everyone was to get at least one each (word was spreading fast). I poured the mixture into the cupcake cases, my audience keenly watching every move. I put two trays in the oven at a time.
The fire-lighting sister-in-law insisted that I should put the cakes on the bottom of the oven (the floor of the oven) I assured her that they would cook better on the shelf (in the middle) I put them were I wanted and went to the lounge for a few minutes. When I walked back in, she had moved them and put them on the floor of the oven. I moved them back up onto the rack. I could not find her to ask her if she had moved them and went out again. Sure enough, I came back 10 minutes later and there they were on the bottom again. So I decided to stay and keep guard over my oven.
I sat on a stool next to it, rotating the trays. My first batch came out and I had to whack a few fingers from nicking one or two. I put tray after tray in the oven patiently sitting there and waiting for them to bake.