Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Egg Yolks and Tennyson

"Half a cup, half a cup, half a cup onward; 
All in the valley of eggs 
I squeezed out the oranges."

Perhaps my adaptation of the Charge of the Light Brigade's opening lines was not very inspiring, but it was with quite as much zeal as they that I plowed through the newly-discovered recipe for orange chiffon cake this morning... and with quite as much hopelessness, may I add!

First, it was the mistake about the orange juice.  When my husband poured out the last glass this morning, I stopped him- I had wanted it for Something.  But I could not remember what the Something was.  It must have been that I wanted some for the little one's oatmeal?  But no!!! Hours too late, gazing at my recipe with distress, it finally occurred to me that orange chiffon cake requires orange juice.  

After a few seconds of bitter self-accusatory reflection, and regret for the kind of disintegration that begins to take place in the mind with age, and visions of reincarnating various actions of my mother such as attempting absentmindedly to put dirty dishes in the laundry hamper, I gathered renewed vigor.  I had a bag of oranges, and had to zest a couple for the cake anyway.  I would therefore simply squeeze the required amount of juice as I would from lemons; time would be all I would lose.

As I was squeezing the oranges, my new version of Tennyson's poem began to whisper itself in my ear.  Amused with the first line, little did I realize it was a dire prophecy.  Next was the remembrance that I had broken the electric mixer, and my other quick fix idea for beating the egg whites hadn't worked.  I am all for doing things by hand, but beating eight egg whites until they form stiff peaks with a whisk is not my idea of a good time.  Daunted but not beaten (pun intended), "perplexed but not in despair," I threw them into the blender until they were frothy and then beat them the rest of the way by hand.

Midway through the egg crisis, of course, came the knowledge that I have no cream of tartar.  After two weeks of gleaning ingredients carefully, the time to bake arrived without cream of tartar.  After a sidetrack or two online, reading odd facts about cream of tartar and it's origins, I found the due substitute.  And here, several hours later, the cake is finally cooling on the rack.  But who knows whether it will come out of the pan???

"Forward the Cake Brigade!
Was there a cook dismayed?
Not tho' she knew it was she
Who had blundered.
Oranges not to make reply,
Egg whites not to reason why,
Theirs but to do or die-
Into the batter for baking 
I squeezed out the oranges."


  1. Haha! I'm sure it didn't turn out as bad as when I put two teaspoons of baking soda in a batch of scones instead of two teaspoons of baking powder. They tasted like soap. Bleh.

  2. Funny! I had to memorize that poem in grade 8. You have some very good lines in there. "Oranges not to make reply, Egg whites not to reason why..." I wonder how it turned out?

  3. In reply to both Grace and Kathleen- thank you for commenting!! The cake turned out very well, all things considered. It did show some proclivity to stubbornness in coming out of the pan, but the frosting covered a multitude of blemishes. :)