Monday, December 24, 2012

When Christmas Came Early - Part Deux

Earlier this month, Anil and Christabel (Jai's brother and his wife) gifted us this awesome house-shaped cake tin:


I was thrilled, but I didn't expect to have an opportunity to bake such a cake in the near future so I put it right at the back of my baking shelf. Only days later, my friend Kim asked if the kids and I would attend the Christmas party she was throwing for some kids in a girls' home. I said yes and also offered to bake some goodies for the party. My initial plan was to bake cupcakes but given the impending road trip, I figured baking and decorating a single cake would be far less time and effort intensive. And what do you know, I happened to have just the right mould to make it special.

The big worry was baking a cake that was firm enough to come out of the mould easily. After an SOS call to a friend who is a home baker, I took her suggestion and went with this chocolate pound cake, doubling the recipe to ensure I had enough batter to fill the mould. (By the way, I highly recommend this recipe. It was a yummy cake and reasonably easy to make)

Sue impressed upon me the utmost importance of greasing and flouring the cake tin well, ensuring that every nook and cranny was covered. Having done that, I poured in the batter and popped it into the oven to do its thing. There were a few tense moments as the batter threatened to overflow but thankfully, that did not happen.

Given the depth of the mould, the insides took pretty long to get cooked and the top got slightly burnt. But thankfully, that bit needed to be sliced off to get a flat base for the house, so all was good. I used a piece of string across the top of the mould to smoothly slice off the excess bit.

After the cake had cooled down, I was ready to tackle the nerve-wracking part - getting the cake out of the tin in one piece. This wasn't as perfect as I had hoped for but barring a few dings, it looked more or less like a house and got a satisfactory grade.

Then, I used Ayaan's help to ice it. Christabel has also brought us some ready-made icing in various colours so we used those and a disposable plastic syringe to outline some of the features of the house. A sprinkling of snow (icing sugar) and some M&Ms and peppermint candy on the roof and we were done.

This was the final result:


Yes, folks. It is a rather ramshackle house but be kind - it was a first effort. Some unkind souls on Facebook asked what the green blobs were meant to be and instead of defending them as trees, I pronounced it to be a haunted house and those the slimy, green monsters in residence. :-D

Kim and I collected the food and gifts and commandeered our kids into the car and made our way across town to the home. The home houses thirty girls in two small rooms and it was kind of heartbreaking to see how little these girls have. All their mattresses were piled up in one corner and the girls had just one tiny trunk each for all their earthly possessions, including clothes.

The party itself went off pretty well. Kim had some painting planned for the younger kids and some craft for the older ones. She also read them a Christmas story and we sang some carols together. Not knowing Telugu, I was not able to participate as directly as I would have liked, but it felt good to just be there.

I had been worried about how my kids would behave but they were not too bad. Tarana had missed her afternoon nap on account of the party, so she clung to me but was otherwise relatively low maintenance. Ayaan helped a little girl to paint and then was pretty much on his own trip. When he started getting restless, I fished out a book I had carried for him and he sat and read peacefully for a while. I would have liked for him to be more involved but I didn't want to push it.

Overall, I think it went off really well and the girls were happy. Here is what Kim posted on Facebook: "And I must add that this amazing cake was by far the highlight of the Christmas party at the orphanage. 30 little girls devoured it, but not before Ayaan could nab the piece with the peppermint candy and lovingly hand it over to the littlest girl of all, Mahee (4), whom he had just finished teaching to paint."

I wanted to end this post by sharing a little something about the girls' home I have been talking about. It is run by an organsiation called Chaithanya Mahila Mandali (CMM), which works with women and children in the sex trade. All the girls in this home are children of sex workers - some are orphaned, others have been abandoned and some women have chosen to leave their daughters here because they believe that is in their best interests. If you want to help them out with your time or money, here's how.

17 comments:

  1. Very nice :)
    1. The visit to the home
    2. The cake
    3. Ayaan's gesture (most kids that age would pop the candy into their own mouth).

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    1. And here I was fretting that he was on his own trip throughout our visit there. Felt really warmed by Kim's post

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  2. Anonymous12:49 am

    Rohini...disposable syringe! Same pinch...lovely cake,lovely effort,lovely post...Merry christmas to u and ur fmly- Mini

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    1. It reassures me that using a disposable syringe is an acceptable idea :-)

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  3. Anonymous7:46 am

    Wow the cake looks lovely!

    Merry Christmas!

    Chitra

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  4. wow wow wow is all i can say rohini... too good.. i always used to see this tin in amazon and wondered, who wud attempt to do that cake! kudos!

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    1. Would never have bought the cake mould on my own account but now that I have it, it would be a shame to waste it :-)

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  5. The whole experience sounds really amazing Rohini, so great that you could make those little girls happy! And the cake is awesome, I could totally figure out the trees too :) !

    And the pain of waiting for it to bake on the inside, I can totally relate to it after a nail-biting wait for my Christmas fruit cake to come out right.

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    1. Hope your fruitcake was as great as you hoped for it to be :-)

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  6. Love the cake and love the way u all celebrated too. Thanks for sharing info about that home.

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  7. Awesome task. Looks like the baking/cooking bug has bitten you. Hope you had a fun Christmas. Awww for Ayaan.

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  8. This is the loveliest post ever....

    Food, Party with the children, Ayaan's moment..... beautiful! Heartwarming....

    What a way to spend the holidays!!!

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  9. What a heartwarming experience and such a delightful cake!

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  10. Only just catching up after Christmas! Lovely cake tin and awesome looking cake. Great way to spread Christmas cheer. Happy New year to you and yours.

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    1. Thanks and happy new year to you and your family :-)

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  11. Dear Ms.Rohini and Ms.Kim,

    Thanks for your kind words and choosing CMM for your place of celebration for Christmas.

    Everybody had enjoyed and wish the children will have manymore moments like this in the future too.

    Jaya Singh.Thomas
    e.mail:jsthomas@chaithanyamahilamandali.org
    Mobile:+91-9908582655
    www.chaithanyamahilamandali.jimdo.com

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