Auntie Maggie and Auntie Gertrude


Update for fortnight ended 13 Dec 2013

Auntie Maggie had a busy day ahead. She had to complete mixing the fruits with the flour and eggs and take it to Bushy’s bakery in the Bazar lane. The cake bakes were the highlights of her busy Christmas season. She had inherited her business from her mom-in law, Auntie Gertrude. Auntie Gertrude had a legendary reputation among the East Indians of Bombay. There were rumours that she even sent a cake to the Queen of England when she had visited India. Her English puddings and ribbon and sponges were lip-smacking and people swore that that the English who made these would not have been able to better Auntie Gertrude. In fact at Charles and Maggie’s wedding, the hush-hush grapevine of the parish wondered why Gertrude chose Maggie for her son. She was not pretty and was plump. They all surmised that it must have been for culinary skills, as she had an excellent hand in beating the eggs so light that her coconut macaroons were melt-in-your-mouth wonders – felt like coconut air. But no-one dared asked Auntie Gertrude lest they be struck off her cake order list. Auntie Gertrude did not prefer frills, like icing on cakes, or experimentation with cake shapes and styles. Her cakes were – sponges were always round and pound cakes were in loaves and ribbon cakes always sliced. But the daughter in law Maggie tried her had at different styles and textures. So she improvised on her mother in law’s cakes with different styles of icing – Royal, American, Cream, Butter and even with decorations on the cakes. Although Auntie Gertrude did not approve of it – she never stopped her talented daughter in law. So the traditional Christmas bakes would be done by the mother in law, while special occasions would be the daughter-in-law’s forte. The traditional marzipan, guava cheese, kolkols and date rolls were always done the traditional way. It had been years since Auntie had passed away and Auntie Maggie was the head of this home bake business. Although Charles worked in the merchant navy, he ensured that he was always home during the pre-Christmas season. If not to help his wife get the ingredients carted from Crawford Market, to at least be at home to savour the aromas of baking and frying. And this year, Maggie was trying her hand at a mint and chocolate cake. Something she saw a participant bake on a TV chef show. So she got the green mint flavours and tried different versions – in the cake, in the chocolate frosting and even in the frosting between the layers. She also experimented with the right green colour. She finally went with a rich chocolate cake with green minty filling and chocolate frosting and glaced cherries for decoration. The green mint in the middle of the cake would be the surprise. She had made the first batch and then after its success, she decided to do the rest in the evening. Auntie Maggie had sifted the flour and cocoa thrice to get that airy cake, and she had started beating her eggs – first the yolks with the sugar and then the whites. She had to get it so stiff that it would not fall off an upturned bowl. She mixed it all together – lightly, gently so that it would turn out into that airy cake that Auntie Maggie was famous for. She popped the trays into the gas oven and went about the mixing the frosting for the filling and the cake top. That was when the electricity went out. Now she had to depend on the dim light of the candle to finish her process. She had just incorporated the peppermint essence and extract into frosting, and was about to drop the colour. She had to continue and so she just reached out to the little labelled bottle on the table and with her dropper, syringed up the liquid colour and dropped it into the frosting and mixed it. The electricity returned much after she had got the cake batch out of the oven and she had frosted the cake in the dim light. She was about to decorate the top with chocolate bark and glaced cherries, when the lights came back. That was when she noticed in horror, that instead of the green colouring for the mint frosting filling, she had dyed it a deep red. What could she do now? She had already finished the cakes.

D Street was also preparing for its annual tryst with the Cheerful Christmas Season as it expected the Santa to bring in the goodies. The D Boyz were looking forward to the Christmas treats of their eggless cakes (many of the Boyz followed the strict Jain Religion, you see) and marzipan. And when someone got them a taste of the new sensational minty chocolate cake, they were thrilled to eat a chocolate and cherry cake with that smacking green minty flavour within. The mint helped them feel ecstatic and heavenly as they prodded the SENSEX to an all time high of over 21400. And all the Boyz then ordered for more of the cake and waited for more of Auntie Maggie’s cakes. And what they got was the red mint – which was tasty but not so appealing in colour – and this caused the SENSEX to fall to where it was at the beginning of the month – at 20715.

Auntie Maggie had no option but to tell her customers that the minty green was a fiery red, but her faithful clients were forgiving. They knew that Auntie Maggie’s s would be tasty, airy, festive for the chocolate shavings and the carelessly strewn cherries atop the cake. This was reason enough to give it a pride of place on the Feast Table. Even after they had gone home and were ready to celebrate for the festival, auntie Gertrude decided to make a batch of chocolate cupcakes and she would now use the correct coloured mint frosting for it. She peppered the top with crushed mint candy and after making a few dozens, she rested them in the fridge. She would hand deliver them to each of the families who had ordered her chocolate mint cake that went wrong. She had to right herself and she did not sleep that night till she was sure she had enough for all the families, including a few for neighbours, the Jones who were not wealthy to have a large feast, but would have a modest meal. The extra batch was especially for them. She knew that they would not accept the cakes without paying for it, so Auntie Maggie would promise to take the guavas that grew in their garden, though she knew that they were of an inferior quality and she would not use them in her guava cheese. After all, this is the festival of sharing and spreading cheer all around.

Have a great week ahead and fantastic cheery season. And if any of you are ordering form Auntie Maggie, then please do invite me to you house for the feast or party!

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