I love baking; I bake for my friends, my colleagues, my family and, sometimes for the lucky few, my dates—although offering up something you’ve cooked just for them sometimes feels a bit more intimate than whipping off your clothes and getting down to business can be.
It’s a little like coming right out and saying, “I like you so I took the time out of my day to make this. For you.”
Having said that, they do say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, so rarely has turning up with freshly baked goods gone wrong.
On Sunday afternoon, after a somewhat stressful day, I ducked to the shops to get the things I needed to whip up a chocolate cake—just because.
Because I wanted cake. Because I wanted to make something nice. Because I wanted to relax.
Instead, while mixing together the flour, cocoa, chocolate, eggs and other ingredients, I had an epiphany … dating through eHarmony is a little like baking a cake.
Think about it … baking is one of those things that doesn’t come naturally to everyone—just like dating.
We all know that guy or girl who seamlessly bounces from one long-term relationship to the other, but that’s the exception, not the rule. For the majority, dating is hard; it can be confronting, tumultuous and even heartbreaking.
And, just like in baking, you need the right ingredients; you can’t just chuck any old thing into the bowl and hope for the best. Not if you want the finished product to be something delicious; something that will tantalise your taste buds and leave you wanting more.
You need good quality ingredients; ones that are compatible with your taste buds (get where I’m going with this?).
Thankfully, eHarmony’s compatibility matching effectively hands you all the ingredients you need for a great connection—and I’m not talking about liking the same kind of movies or ice-cream flavour; it’s goes deeper than that. It’s about sharing the same values, traits and attributes.
Once you’ve got your ingredients sorted, it’s time to get down to the actual business of mixing them together, because having the right ingredients isn’t enough—it’s what you do with them that matters. The chemistry of the cake, if you will.
And that mix has got to be just right; a little too much spice, or a little too much sweetness and it may not be quite what you were after.
Then, when you’ve mixed your ingredients together, you need to pop it in the oven and let things heat up.
And then you wait.
Just like you can’t rush a cake to cook and expect it to be baked to perfection, you can’t hurry love (yes, Diana Ross and The Supremes really knew their sh*t).
Sometimes, even if you have all the right ingredients and the right recipe, you will still end up with a cake that’s raw in the centre, burnt on the top or dry and crumbly.
That doesn’t mean you’re a bad baker; perhaps you were having an off today, perhaps your ingredients weren’t quite right. The good thing is you can grab some more flour and eggs and start again. And dating is exactly the same.
Every time a date—or a cake—doesn’t turn out the way you hoped, you’ll learn something knew about yourself and the process of finding the right one for you.
So now, you can have your cake and eat it too, but remember, no one can live on cake alone … you need to make sure you continue to live a balanced life—even if trying to find ‘the one’ is your priority.
Friendships, family, work and the activities and hobbies that you love to do should still play a major part in your life. Think of dating as dessert, the cherry on top if you will—it should be fun, sweet and enjoyed in moderation or you’ll burn yourself out!
For those who are now craving chocolate cake, or want to impress their special someone with a sweet treat tonight, here’s a recipe from the domestic goddess herself, Nigella Lawson.
Old-fashioned Chocolate Cake
200g plain flour
200g caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
40g best-quality cocoa
175g soft unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
150ml sour cream
75g unsalted butter
175g best quality dark chocolate, broken into small pieces (you could use 70% cent dark chocolate buttons)
300g icing sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
125ml sour cream
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1. Take everything out of the fridge so that all the ingredients can come to room temperature.
2. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C and line and butter two 20cm sandwich tins with removable bases.
3. Now all you have to do is put all the cake ingredients – flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarb, cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream – into a food processor and process until you have a smooth, thick batter. If you want to go the long way around, just mix the flour, sugar and leavening agents in a large bowl and beat in the soft butter until you have a combined and creamy mixture. Now whisk together the cocoa, sour cream, vanilla and eggs and beat this into your bowl of mixture.
4. Divide this batter, using a rubber spatula to help you scrape and spread, into the prepared tins and bake until a cake tester, or a thin skewer, comes out clean, which should be about 35 minutes, but it is wise to start checking at 25. Also, it might make sense to switch the two cakes around in the oven halfway through cooking time.
5. Remove the cakes, in their tins, to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before turning out of their tins. Don’t worry about any cracks as they will easily be covered by the icing later.
1. Melt the butter and chocolate in a good-sized bowl either in the microwave or suspended over a pan of simmering water. Go slowly either way: you don’t want any burning or seizing.
2. While the chocolate and butter are cooling a little, sieve the icing sugar into another bowl.
3. Add the golden syrup to the cooled chocolate mixture, followed by the sour cream and vanilla and then when all this is combined whisk in the sieved icing sugar.
4. You may need to add a little boiling water – say a teaspoon or so – or indeed some more icing sugar.
5. Ice the cake and top with your preferred decoration.
Editor’s note: If you are looking to whip up a chocolate cake in a hurry; grab yourself a packet mix (try White Wings Milk Chocolate Cake), 2 x 160ml tubs of Paul’s Dollop Double Thick Cream and 2 punnets of strawberries. Make the cake, skip the icing, top with the cream and top with strawberries. Easy as, really.
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