Earlier last week one of the volunteers at the Coln Community Stores asked me if I would bake him a couple of loaf cakes for the Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, a lemon drizzle and a fruit loaf. Not only did he ask me if I would bake for him, but that he would pay me for the fruits of my labour. I jumped at the chance, both of paid employment as well as baking for such a worthwhile cause. I did offer to bake the cakes at cost for such a good cause, but I was told that he wanted to pay the full price of the cakes.
After a mid day shift at the Coln Community Stores on Wednesday (10 am to 3 pm), the day of the bake, my stomach started to niggle. This shift is always the worst for me as invariably I eat badly and don’t hydrate enough on this shift. I had intended to sleep when I got home to try to shake off the niggle, but various things got in the way.
After a bit of a rest (but not sleep) I set about making the lemon drizzle and fruit cake. As usual, I had scoured the Internet for suitable recipes. After an extensive search I came across a lemon drizzle cake from Baking Mad and a fruit loaf from The Kitchen Sanctuary. Of course there is always a danger of baking something you have never baked before for a client, but I didn’t have tried and tested recipes for either loaf cake.
As I had started the fruit cake before my 10 am shift at the Stores as the dried fruit needed to soak in the tea for several hours before use, I thought I should complete the fruit cake before I started on the lemon drizzle cake. The bake went relatively smoothly. I kept a beady eye on the cake whilst baking ensuring that the top of the cake was not becoming too dark. It was only in the last 15 minutes that I covered it with foil to prevent further darkening of the top. Although I felt that the bake was not too dark, when I photographed the cake for my Instagram page, I noticed that the bake was a little darker than I had initially thought. On these occasions I hear the words of my Chef Tutor in my ear saying ‘colour is flavour’ and hope that his words are correct.
After my fruit loaf was safely out of the oven and cooling nicely, I set about preparing and baking my lemon drizzle cake (which I had started preparing while the fruit cake was in the oven). The bake went well, except for the fact that I had to bake the cakes in my domestic oven rather than my professional oven as I couldn’t find the 13 amp extension lead for the professional oven and I didn’t have the energy to drag it by myself across the kitchen floor to plug it into the 13 amp plug. I am not sure what it is about my domestic oven, but I am convinced that the fan is a little too fierce and blows a mighty gale in one direction, as my bakes often look a little windswept. The lemon drizzle cake was no exception. I half convinced myself to do the bake again, but it was getting late and I really needed to get to bed for my morning shift. There was nothing wrong with the bake of the lemon drizzle cake, it was just the the left side of the cake was a little higher than the right, despite the fact that I had evened out the top of the cake mixture prior to placing it in the oven, as instructed.
I wrapped the cooled cakes in some baking parchment, tied with raffia and a ‘bake’ label and went to bed. I managed to get through the bake, as well as do the costings for the cake without my stomach causing me too much trouble. Or so I thought ….
At about 1.30 am, I woke up with very severe abdominal pains. I lie down in a hot bath, a couple of paracetamol and hot water bottle did not do the trick for long and sometime between 1.30 am and 5.40 am when my alarm goes off, I got out of bed and was violently ill. Although I did go back to sleep after this, it didn’t take me long to realise when I woke up that I was too ill to go into work. I also had to decide what to do about the cakes. Although I was almost entirely convinced that this episode was related to my underlying health condition, I couldn’t be 100 % certain and so I took the decision to inform the person I had made the cakes for about the situation. I left it to him whether he used the cakes for the coffee morning or not. Mustering enough energy to take the cakes (with note) up to the Coln Community Store just before 8 am on the Thursday, I went home and back to bed, where I remained for the best part of two days. I literally slept for the first 24 hours.
Although still bearing the scars of this most recent episode of illness, I am now back at work. I learnt on my return that the gentlemen who I made the cakes for didn’t donate them to the coffee morning, but instead decided to eat them himself (with the assistance of his wife). They have eaten the lemon drizzle cake and are now working their way through the fruit loaf. I have been advised that both cakes were very delicious.
The sad thing is that although I was poorly, it wasn’t anything contagious (just my own medical condition). By being cautious (and honest) my cakes couldn’t be used as intended to help a good cause. Although I only got the cost of the ingredients (which I was grateful for), I still wouldn’t change what I did as could not have forgiven myself if someone had got ill eating one of my bakes. Lets hope I have better luck next time.