Fairy Cakes & Cookies
“What the heck are all those boxes out in the hallway?” Pearse asks as he stumbles into the kitchen.
“Oh my new kitchen equipment, sorry haven’t had a chance to unpack it yet.”
“Are you sure it’s not an entirely new kitchen?”
“Don’t be silly; the boxes aren’t big enough.”
“Oh, well ok, um are you going to work today?” He asks an awkward tone in his voice.
“Nope I am not nor shall I be for the foreseeable future.” Cutting open a gigantic box, I lift out a shiny new teal coloured stand mixer, damn it’s heavy. Setting it on the counter, I stand back and admire it; I notice Pearse throwing me a quizzical look. “Aren’t you going to be late?” I ask, pointing at my watch.
“Sure am but being the boss, it doesn’t matter.” He says, sitting down on one of the bar-stools at the kitchen island. “So what are you going to bake for us?”
“For you, who says I’m baking anything for you.” His shoulders slump, he opens his mouth to say something only an uh sound emits from him. I doubt if anything I make will be edible anyways. “If you’re going to hang around all day you could make yourself useful and bring in some of those boxes.”
“Only if I get to sample some of the finished products?”
“Fine but on your own head be it, don’t blame me if you get poisoned.”
“I won’t, do you need this much equipment for baking, or was it just an excuse to buy a lot of new shit?” He asks from the hallway where he is contemplating which box to lift first.
“Of course I need it all we don’t have any of this, and it is essential for baking.”
“Really?” His raised eyebrow indicating he’s not entirely buying it. “So what have handbags got to do with baking?”
“Handbags?” Looking up from the mountain of bubble wrap lying on the counter, I get a childish urge to pop it all.
“Yes, handbags.” He replies, holding up a parcel from my favourite online handbag retailer.
“Oh, I forgot about those.” He looks baffled, I had pre-ordered their new line several months ago, with everything that has happened it had completely slipped my mind.
“Not like you need any more handbags anyways you have a cupboard full of them.” He comments, setting a large box onto the counter, glaring at him he smiles sheepishly and retreats into the hall. He should know by now you can never have too many handbags or pairs of shoes.
“So what is the first recipe you are going to attempt?” He asks parking himself back on the stool after having set the last box on the counter.
“You know something I haven’t thought about that. Any requests?” He looks up mouth open; face scrunched up an umm escapes his lips. “Yes?” His mouth closes, lips pursed, index finger tapping on his chin. Is it that difficult a decision? Finally, he says.
“Fairy cakes with chocolate on top.” It took him that long to come up with fairy cakes.
“Fairy cakes, you sure?” He nods his head enthusiastically, ok fairy cakes it is then. “Do you want a smartie on top of the chocolate?”
“Yes, please.” I haven’t seen him this excited about anything in a long time, who would have thought that the idea of a home-baked fairy cake with chocolate on top could be so appealing. Extracting my phone from my pocket, I do a quick search for a simple fairy cake recipe. Luckily we have all of the necessary ingredients, I’ve purchased all the required equipment but haven’t quite got as far as the ingredients for the actual baking. Gathering what I need, I set about making some fairy cakes. Measuring out the flour and sugar first then the butter. I remember seeing Mrs Brown doing that many moons ago when she was making a birthday cake for one of us. Pearse sits intently watching, his eyes follow everything I do, a smile on his lips, just what is going through that head of his? Following the recipe to the letter, my baking skills being sub-par makes deviating off the path out of the question. I fill each tiny case with as much of the batter as directed and pop them in the oven.
“I think this calls for some tea.” Pearse suggests getting up off his stole and flicking on the kettle.
“Good idea and I’ll clean up this mess.” The countertop looks like it has a thin layer of snow on it, sifting the flour was messier than expected. As I wipe the last of the flour away, Pearse sets two cups of steaming hot water on the counter.
Lifting one of the cups, I say, “Thanks.”
“How long do we have to wait?”
“Recipe says 20 minutes.”
“That long.” He’s such an impatient brat sometimes.
“Yes, that long.”
The timer pings, Pearse almost jumps up off his stool, I fear he is going to be slightly disappointed by the results. Lifting them out of the oven, they look surprisingly good, who knows how they taste. Setting them out onto a cooling rack, Pearse reaches to take one, smacking his hand away, he says, “Hey, why can’t I have one?”
“They have to cool first.” He sits back down, lips pursed, full sulk mode engaged.
“Ugh this takes too long, could get some from the bakery quicker.”
Sweeping my hand across the cooling rack, I say, “If that’s your attitude, you won’t want any of these then when they are ready.” His face falls, his mouth opens and quickly closes again, he’s making a great impression of a fish out of water.
“You are a cruel woman Olivia.”
Sticking my tongue out at him, I say, “Not in the least if my fairy cakes aren’t worth waiting for, then you won’t be getting any.”
“Well, that’s just harsh.”
“What’s all this?” Joey asks entering the kitchen, lifting one of the fairy cakes off they tray, “Oh hot.” He says quickly dropping it again.
“Serves you right for not asking first.”
“Oli made me fairy cakes; she’s going to put chocolate on top of them and a smartie.” Pearse comments a tone of delight in his voice.
“So this is what you two having been doing all morning instead of coming to work.” He clearly didn’t take me seriously when I said I was through with it all.
“And this is what I shall be doing tomorrow and the next day and the next and the one after that too.”
“What about the one after that?” He asks with a cheeky grin.
“I might take a day off.”
“A day off from taking a day off, how does that even work, does that mean you go to work?” His face scrunched up, trying to work that conundrum out.
“Nope, it means I take a day and do nothing at all.”
“Oh, so nothing different from a normal workday then.”
“Haha.” Handing Pearse a bar of chocolate, I say, “Here break this up.” He complies and neatly breaks the chocolate into little cubes, placing them in a glass bowl.
“So can I put a request in too?” Joey asks pinching a cube of chocolate from the bowl, Pearse throws him a dirty look.
“I suppose yes, as long as it’s nothing too complicated.”
“Victoria sponge please.” He says without a moment of thought, bloody Victoria sponge cake I’ve never been able to make one of those without it being a complete failure.
“Can’t promise it’ll be edible but ok.”
“I want chocolate chip cookies, oh oh and pecan brownies and sticky toffee pudding.” Pearse adds, his waistline expanding merely from mentioning them.
“Hold up there, piglet; I think fairy cakes and sponge cakes are advanced enough for me for the time being.”
“You’re doing that way too aggressively.” Joey comments as I knead the crap out of some bread dough.
“The recipe says knead vigorously.”
“Yeah, there’s a difference between kneading vigorously and putting a hole in the countertop.”
“Who made you the expert?”
“No-one, but a blind man on a galloping horse could see your kneading that too aggressively.” Just as he says that the dough rips, he gives me that told ya so look; he does so love being right.
“Ugh go to work already and give my head peace.” I say throwing a piece of the dough at him.
“Temper, temper, I’m the one with the red hair, not you.” Glowering at him, he quickly retreats to the doorway, “I’m still waiting for that Victoria sponge you promised me.” He says, disappearing out the door. He may keep on waiting I’ve already failed several times in the last two days trying to make one, they either end up being raw in the middle and sink or taste like rubber. Cleaning up the bread dough, which is a total failure. I decide to do a quick search on foolproof ways to make a Victoria sponge, none of the results are of any help, I’ve already tried all of those tricks and failed, miserably. As I am about to give up I notice an image of mini sponge cakes, why didn’t I think of that before. Mixing up a batch of sponge batter, greasing each hole in a muffin tray, I carefully fill each one with some of the mixture. Popping them in the oven, I cross my fingers and say, “Please work, please work.” Flicking on the kettle, I begin to clear up the mess I have made. Making a cup of tea, I sit down with a book I have been meaning to read for several years now but have never had enough free time to. It still feels a little odd relaxing at this time of the day, no meetings or phone calls to deal with and most definitely no bloody Women’s League.
I leave the best looking of the mini sponge cakes under a cake cover on the kitchen counter, with a little note on it which reads, ’DO NOT TOUCH’.