The Tragedy and the Triumph of Baking in Britain

It seems simple enough: my supervisor’s birthday is coming up. I enjoy baking. (Mostly, I enjoy the cake batter/cookie dough/etc.) And so: cupcakes!

I decide to make them from a box (GASP!!!) since I was a little swamped that day. But to jazz ’em up a little, I whip up some chocolate ganache for the middle (essentially chocolate sauce: I enjoy putting it on almost everything). Naturally, I am left with oodles of ganache. Naturally, I need to use it up.

And so: sugar cookies stuffed with ganache, and then s’more cupcakes with ganache icing. From scratch.

And then the trouble starts…

Challenge 1: Shopping

Welcome to my thought process in the grocery store:

Where in this blasted store are the baking powder and baking soda? I see the flour, and the sugar… the baking powder and baking soda must be around here somewhere.

Oh. I get it. “Bicarbonate of soda.” Those Brits. Funny shaped canisters, too. This is why they lost the empire.

BUT WHY IS THE COCOA POWDER NOT IN THE BAKING SECTION? Oh, of course, there is an entire SECTION dedicated to chocolate in its various forms. Empire won again.

Challenge 2: Translating

I gather all my materials, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, and get ready to make a miracle.

Of course, I lack mixing bowls – but why should that stop me?! I have a casserole dish. It’s essentially the same thing.

The real problem: blasted British measurements. See, I’m stubborn and kooky and insist on using recipes I’m used to… aka American recipes (U-S-A! U-S-A). But in the Land of Liz, they have entirely different methods of measuring.

For example: Pyrex measuring cup marked for ounces, pints, and liters: no 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup, anything.

(Should it be called a measuring PINT then? Hmmm.)

The stick of butter? More like a brick of butter, differentiated by lines measuring 50 grams. No such thing as 1/4c of butter marked on the wrapper in the United Kingdom, lad.

But I am a tough Scandinavian woman and I persevere! More accurately, I have a little post-it cheat sheet stuck on my cabinet to translate cups into ounces and a handy website that is literally a butter converter. What fun!

Challenge 3: The physical act of baking

All right guys and girls, it may have taken a precise measurement of 56.7 grams of butter, but we finally got to the glory moment: baking in the oven!

Of course, as you may remember, this is the kitchen that Zenon, girl of the 21st century, uses. I finally scrounged up the user’s manuel, but got a headache when trying to translate British to American and finally just set it on the little bold bar at the top with the fan going and figured I would call it a day.

Challenge 4: Getting everything eaten and not STUFFING YOUR FACE

Of course, after overcoming the horrific challenges of purchasing baking soda and turning the dials on the oven, I face the largest challenge of all: I don’t have a roommate (or people who come to my flat on a daily basis)… I don’t have anything that can easily transport baked goods… and I just made 15 cupcakes.


But fear not, because in addition to being a Swede/Irish gal with a sparkling personality, I also am a Girl Scout with a box of tinfoil. Et viola, cupcake carrying cases constructed entirely out of tinfoil! Thank you, thank you.

I’m proud to say those puppies were consumed in one day. I’m less proud to say that I kept six in my house for future usage and they are all gone. I may or may not have made them less than five days ago.



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