Fake Baking, Shortcut Taking Brownie Making

I held up the olive green measuring cup in my tiny uncertain hands. As I listened with care to my mother’s direction as she clasped her hands around mine we lowered our hands together into the flour container, overfilling the once-empty cup with stark white flour. The flour sat piled high above the rim of the cup, as if a fresh snowfall had fallen within my grasp. As I held the cup in my hand, hovering it over the retro orange Tupperware container, my mother then guided my hand with Gentle care. Using the flat side of the butter knife, she taught me how to glide it over the top of the measuring cup with precision, shovelling the mountain of snow back into the container, leaving behind only the exact amount of flour for our mixture.

Step by step with precision and patience, my mom would allow me to measure, mix, crack and stir—guiding me with a calm voice to teach me and a gentle hand to steer me along the way until our creations were ready to bake.

After placing our creations into the oven, mom would flick the oven light on and I would sit peering through the small glass window. Cookies would melt and mould into form, cakes would rise full and airy, and my eyes would grow wide with delight as I watched the magic of our creations unfold right before my very eyes.

Over the years the wonder and amazement transformed to skill and fervour earning me my very own 50 cent second place prize in my elementary schools cake making contest, my very own subscription to a recipe book collection, and the nickname ‘cakers’ from my dad—a name that he still calls me to this day.

Being dubbed the baker in the family from a young age is something that sticks with you, and it was something I was happy to revisit, after moving in with my family, and once again having someone to bake for. Unbeknownst to me—baking was not an easily acquired skill in my brothers household, so I was pleased to take after my mom with a gentle guiding hand and calm voice to teach my nieces.

There are of course always those moments in life, where despite skilfulness, and composure, a love for the craft, and enthusiasm—life throws you a curveball, and you in turn throw your love and ability our the window, and take a shortcut.

My curveball came running toward me panicked. A wide eyed bright minded niece of mine who had set her hopes high in her most recent social studies project, and packed her calendar a little to full.

Her group was going to hold a bake sale and donate all the proceeds to charity, in a display of “what youth can do for their communities”. One of her contributions to the project was the ambitious offer to bake Five pans of brownies for the sale—a tall order in a family who I’ve seen burn the outside of Pillsbury crescent rolls, while still leaving them raw in the middle, after baking them at the specified temperature on the label. To make matters worse for her, it was after 5pm, she was on her way out to a babysitting commitment and the sale was tomorrow morning. Sheer panic was written across her face at the thought of being Brownie-less at the sale tomorrow.

Without an ounce of hesitation, Cakers came to the rescue and I promised to have her five pans of brownies ready by morning.

While truthfully I could have sacrificed some sleep and made the brownies from scratch for the sale, when I considered the time, the less-than-delicate palates of the tweens and teens who would be chowing down, and the fact that I LOVE sleep—I decided that “sleep” was adequate enough to meet the criteria of “Desperate times” and that 5 boxes of Brownie Mix, a few cans of icing, and some creative ways to Jazz up the brownies using different kinds of crushed up chocolate bars and cookies would suffice as desperate measures.

I expected that they’d sell well enough—being junk food sold in the hallway of a Junior high school at lunch hour. What was less-than expected, was a request from the principal of the girls’ school, who indicated to them that they were the “best brownies he had ever eaten”.

At first I laughed it off when I heard the request, and casually “forgot” to write down the recipe, certain that he had made the comment to be nice. But as request number two, and then three came again, I knew I was busted. I would have to fess up to my fake baking, shortcut taking, brownie making.

I was a shame to the “cakers” title.

I held a pen and paper in my hand with uncertainty, my nerves over filling me. With a level head I measured out some honesty onto the paper, mixed in the step by step process to creating the brownies, cracked a few jokes, and stirred. Then I folded the note and placed it into the envelope and sent it to school with my nieces the next morning.

The letter read.

The girls told me you would like the recipe for the brownies I made for the bake sale. Before I share this with you, you must understand that this is an old family recipe and my mother would absolutely kill me if she found out I was sharing this with anyone. You must be certain that you will not pass this on to anyone.

Step one.
Prepare one store-bought box of chocolate chunk brownies exactly as the recipe indicates. Use the lowest cooking time indicated.

Step two

Step three
Frost with one can of store bought chocolate fudge icing

Step Four
Crush up three skor bars and sprinkle on the brownies.

Step Five
Get completely busted by the principal of your nieces’ school for taking a short cut for the school bake sale after he decides these were the best brownies he’s ever tasted and wants the recipe—

Sincerely Auntie Stef.