Saturday, January 1, 2011

Proving My Worth and Mettle

When I was a new bride, I owned a Kenwood Mixer. This sturdy stand-mixer came with shredding, grinding, kneading, juicing and egg-white whipping attachments. I ran that thing into the ground as I fed a family that grew by leaps and bounds. Dov tinkered with the Kenwood, failed to find a way to resuscitate my favorite kitchen toy, and finally brought it to a Jerusalem-based repairman.

The repairman LOST my Kenwood. That's right. He misplaced this largish kitchen appliance. Or so he said. Dov thinks the guy thought we weren't good for the money, so he fixed it and resold it to someone else at a bigger profit than he would have made from the repair, anyway.

Sue the guy? Yeah. Right. This is the Middle East. Just write it off.

After the loss of my Kenwood, I made do with a variety of hand-mixers that came with built-in obsolescence. They burned out with great regularity. And each time we bought a new one. A hand-mixer isn't built to mix a very thick or large amount of cake batter and I have a very large family (did I mention I have 12 kids?) with a serious sweet tooth.

It helped that my mother in-law bought me a food processor as a gift after my fifth child, Elyahu's birth. That replaced all the wonderful Kenwood attachments (grater, grinder, and so forth), but couldn't stand in as a mixer for most cakes and cookies. So through the years, we've had a long parade of hand-mixers enter our home in a box and leave by way of the trash can.

Well, getting to the point of my story, my latest mixer incarnation died over Chanuka while mixing the icing for Yitzchak's birthday cake. Our lovely downstairs neighbor Dina allowed us to use her mixer to finish mixing the icing and then I took a prolonged break from baking until such time as I could replace the hand-mixer for the umpteenth time. Such a break is an unheard of luxury for me. I bake every single week, come rain or shine, every Thursday, so we'll have a home-baked Shabbos dessert.

Now, just a short time ago, friends and clients of Dov's opened a branch of the Marzipan bakery in the Old City of Jerusalem, and my son Natan was hired to work in the store. If you've never tasted Marzipan chocolate rugelach, you are missing out on a little piece of heaven. These are the gooiest, moistest, most chocolaty chocolate rugelach ever made, bar none. They DRIP with chocolate. They leak through the plastic lined box, so you have to keep the box inside a bag. Oh my God they're good. Fattening, true. But expensive.

Lucky for us, what with the owners being our friends, and our son their devoted worker, we got a discount. For several weeks running, we ordered two kilogram of these chocolate pastry treats to be delivered late Friday afternoon and not a crumb was left by Saturday night.

But this week something went wrong.

One of the co-owners of the store moved house this week and Dov helped him with various errands, including the delivery of the rugelach inside our town of Efrat. Once Dov had completed the deliveries, it turned out that there were none left for us--the order got screwed up. Dov was not a happy camper and he didn't want to talk about it. I was sick with a virus, and he felt like he was failing me.

Not to worry. Here comes SuperVard. With only 45 minutes left until candle-lighting time, when all work must cease, and we must harbor in the 26 hour Jewish Sabbath, I remembered a cake recipe I could probably turn out with just my whisk. Wacky Cake. I grabbed my Hershey's cookbook from the shelf and started pulling ingredients out of the pantry. I was a veritable whirlwind.

My husband and kids were looking at me like I was crazy. There was no way I could have a cake ready in time for Shabbos. But I kept going. I greased the pan, shook some cocoa around the bottom and sides, and began measuring flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt into a mixing bowl. Then...Horrors!! I saw I didn't have enough baking soda. I was short one teaspoon.

Even though my user-friendly neighbor Dina was recovering from gallbladder surgery, we had no choice but to send a kid down to get some baking soda--things had progressed too far in my mixing bowl to stop the cake momentum now. Dina coughed up a box of baking soda (Thanks, Dina!) and I threw a second teaspoon of baking soda into the bowl and got ready to mix.

The whisk couldn't really make it through that heavy cake batter, but undaunted, I grabbed a fork and kept going. My family was NOT going to go without a dessert on this or any other Shabbos.

Thirty-five minutes later, that cake came out of the oven with moments to spare, high and light and smelling of chocolate. I placed it on a rack to cool and raided my freezer for all the odds and ends of icing I've saved from various cake-decorating projects. By the time we were ready to eat, the cake had cooled enough to ice and after icing my creation, I sprinkled it with blue and white sprinkles.

My family thought I was a miracle maker. I'd show you a photo of the cake, but it didn't last long enough to get a photo. Dov couldn't get over it--how I pulled that off. The kids couldn't either. That pan was LICKED clean.

Another job for SuperVard.