The results of my first ever baking experiment are in! Determined that this would be different from my usual culinary misadventures, I prepared myself meticulously. I made a list of all the doubts I might have and found answers online before I actually got started rather than my usual strategy of making an instinctive (and usually wrong) choice while upto my elbows in eggs and flour.
So I found out what one 'cup' translates to in metric terms - for liquids and dry stuff separately - and wrote down all the conversions on a postit stuck to my kitchen work area. I figured out the difference between vanilla essence and extract. I doubled checked all mentioned oven temperatures and wrote them down in both Farenheit and Celsius.
I laid out all my equipment and supplies and ticked each item off against the recipe. I tested that the bowls I had were big enough for me to 'whisk gently' without spilling half the batter on the kitchen floor. The recipe (sent to me by a reader - thanks again, QA!), was copied out neatly onto another large postit also stuck to the work area. Moppet was sent down to play in the park with Nanny. I didn't want any distractions (or witnesses, in case of spectacular failure). I was ready to begin!
One. Two. Three. A deep breath, and I was off! Measuring, sifting, mixing, whisking, melting, and folding like a pro. In half an hour, the kitchen was smelling all warm and chocolatey, and I had a big bowl of brownie batter that looked just perfect.
I transferred it into my brand new baking tray, and encountered my first hitch. The tray was too small. I hadn't quite anticipated how much batter the recipe would produce. No matter, I'd just bake 2 batches. I poured in half the batter, and saved the rest for round 2.
Then the second hitch. For all my checks and online research, the one thing I had forgotten to check? The oven. It's an old oven that came pre-installed in the kitchen so there's no manual that explains the settings. I was able to figure out the timer and the temperature without a problem, but the mode setting had me stumped. They were just a series of icons, and I had no clue what they meant.
So I followed my instincts and picked one, and naturally it was the absolutely wrong choice. 10 minutes into baking, I realised by the thick burnt crust that had formed on top that it probably wasn't the right setting, so I foolishly followed my instincts and picked another setting.
Of course, that was even worse than the first setting, which I realised another 10 minutes into the game. By this time, my warm chocolatey kitchen was smelling like burnt coffee, and my eyes were beginning to smart. I tried a third setting - which may or may not have been the right one - it was too late to tell.
Finally, I turned everything off, burnt myself getting the tray out of oven (my equipment list hadn't mentioned oven mitts so of course I didn't buy any), dumped the half burned, half jellied batter straight into the dustbin, and informed Moppet's Papa (with great composure, given the circumstances) that my world had officially ended, that I was retiring from life, and that if he needed me he would find me in bed where I intended to stay for next week or so.
Ok, he said kindly, but since there was some batter left, why not give it another shot? He came along to help figure out the icons and after some debate we finally settled on one which turned out to be almost right. It wasn't perfect - the top still got a bit burned and I found another icon later that I realised wouldn't have had extra heat coming from the top - but it was much, much better than the previous 3 settings I had used. The burned portion was easily scraped off, and when the whole thing had cooled off, they actually turned out to be yummy. Not particularly good-looking, but really yummy.
Moppet's Papa casually asked me which brand of mix it was, and when I stopped stuffing my face long enough to inform him that it was no mix, that I had made it from scratch, he looked suitably impressed.
It seems there's hope for me after all!