Mary Berry, face of the Great British Bake Off (GBBO) and most polite judge in the history of reality television, picked up a slice of spongecake and went in for the taste. She chewed slowly, squinted her piercing blue eyes, and swallowed.
“That,” she paused “is a lovely sponge.”
Every time she did it I was reminded of Speedy, my childhood pet turtle, and the way he’d move his neck as he went in for the first bite of a garden grub or roly-poly (that’s what we called pill bugs as children; the British use the same word to refer to a sweet dough with filling… and I’m already grossed out by this post, which is exactly the opposite of what I was going for). Anyway, I don’t say that to insult Mary Berry. She’s a total queen. It’s just that sometimes her bites are a bit reptilian.
My sister’s birthday was last week so I decided to grab Mary’s Victoria Sponge recipe and surprise her with a cake. Today I’m sharing my process and the final results.
Disclaimer: I’m neither a baker nor a food blogger. I’d barely touched an oven before I hosted a Thanksgiving abroad in 2013 (against my will and with severe anxiety that I might accidentally poison everyone). I’ve hosted three more since then (voluntarily and with great enthusiasm), learned how to make pie crust, made one chocolate cake, a few batches of brownies, and an apple pie that didn’t impress the Spaniards very much. It was a great pie so I went ahead and blamed “cultural differences” and tried not to roll onto the floor when it was suggested that cabello de angel should be added to the filling.
I’ve done a lot of market research on lifestyle blogs/listicles and I’ve noticed that a lot of people seek help when it comes to putting their things in bags and then traveling with them, so I thought I’d share my own method. I’ve been packing this way for years and its always worked for me.
Take your suitcase out of the closet. Open it.
Walk away from the suitcase.
Put a wig on.
Take a casual selfie:
Think: I am lookin’ like a drowned, harassed rat (then wonder who wrote that line in “Let’s Have a Kiki” and envy them).
Start playing one or two songs on repeat. This year I’m listening to Rihanna’s “Love on The Brain” and “Higher.” The best lines are “What do I gotta do to get in yo’ mothafuckin’ heart?” and “I just really need your ass with me,” respectively.
Receive a message from a friend with a link to Tina Turner’s 1982 performance of “Proud Mary” and then spend between ten and thirty minutes freaking out about how amazing Tina Turner and her legs are.
Clean out the pockets of your winter coats and wonder why it is always in the pockets of said coats that the most bittersweet of memories live.
Read your old journals and feel mildly embarrassed. Destroy between twelve and fifteen pages after you deem them too dramatic and/or dirty for public consumption in the event that you suffer an untimely death and someone has to go through your things.
Take the wig off and feel a little bit sad about it.
Have a brief panic attack when you think you’re a year older than you actually are.
Have a coffee.
Have a tiny mental breakdown as you compare your life today to your life at this same moment last year. Entertain the possibility that you are making all of the wrong decisions, all of the time. Realize that you feel this same way when you compare your life two weeks ago to your life today and resolve to be more carpe diem because, seriously, who cares?
Think for a good bit about the absurdity of being afraid.
Repeat Step # 4.
Start folding and stacking clothing. Find a slim journal among a pile of t-shirts, start reading it, and begin to suspect that your past self planted emotional bombs all over your room in some kind of sick plan to thwart your departure.
Start taking your books off the shelf, smelling the pages, and remembering where and why you read each of them.
Wish someone would bring you a snack and a proper iced coffee.
Throw all of your clothing on top of your suitcase, reasoning that, while this does not qualify as packing, at least it has gotten closer to its final destination.
Repeat Step # 6.
Make and eat dinner.
Call your sister to inquire about how many formal dresses you’ve left in the closet at home. Although you have no plans to attend any black tie events during your visit, this feels urgent. Chat for an hour with multiple family members about eyebrows, taxes, and “Ice Cream Jerks.”
Write a stupid list about everything you just did and promise yourself that you’ll make more progress tomorrow (cuz you’re responsible as eff and started this three days early).