Tag Archives: Waterfall

Cake for Helen and Carl

Cake for Helen and Carl

I am still reading The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Baurmeister. I am super excited reading about this novel. There is a recipe hidden in every chapter. Thinking about how this novel is making me happy, I am also happy that my favourite novel, Pride and Prejudice didn’t have any cooking descriptions. I would have taken ages to finish reading that classic.

At this point in the novel, Lillian, the protagonist and the master chef of the novel, is teaching her class how to bake a cake. As you must have understood from my previous blog about the choco-coffee, Lillian doesn’t believe in handing out recipes to her students and asks them to cook or bake using their senses. This time too, there is no written recipe for the cake. But here among her students, we have an old couple, who got married without a traditional wedding cake, and still are going strong despite ups and downs, and even an affair. Lillian dedicates this cake to Helen and Carl, the couple who believe in love. And I, like the last time, am giving you the detailed report of how my cake turned out as per her instructions. Given below are the instructions taken directly from the book. So they are not exactly instructions, but are parts of conversations and narration.

Lillian’s Instructions for the Cake

My Cake

Separate egg whites from yolks. I did this later in the process.
Lillian put the butter into the bowl and turned on the mixer. I used about 125g of unsalted butter and softened it manually using a spoon instead of putting into a mixer.
Slowly, in an impossibly thin waterfall of white, she let the sugar drift into the bowl. I used about 100g of fine sugar powder and blended it with the softened and now air-filled butter.
Finally, when the butter and sugar reached the cloudlike consistency of whipped cream, she turned off the motor. Since I was manually blending and air-filling the butter and sugar, it took me longer time.
So, now we add the egg yolks, bit by bit, letting the air rise into them as well. Separating and placing yolks and whites of 2 eggs in separate bowls, I whipped the egg yolks well enough to make a yellow coloured free flowing liquid and then slowly added it to the butter-sugar mixture while stirring.
She remarked lifting out a scoopful and letting it fall through the sifter in a fluttering snow shower into a large measuring cup. I sifted about 200g of all-purpose flour (maida) and set it aside.
Lillian began adding some of the flour to the batter, the milk alternatively. I used about 200-250ml of cold milk and added to the batter alternatively with the sifted flour.
If you mix the flour with the other ingredients for too long, you will have a flat, hard cake. I didn’t set a timer to know for how long I was stirring the batter to blend the flour and avoid lump formation.
Lillian beat the egg whites into foam, adding just a bit of sugar at the end, as the class watched it turn into soft then stiff peak. I beat the egg whites and added sugar to it in the end. Maybe it’s because of the manual blending, no stiff peaks were formed.
When it was done, Lillian carefully folded the frothy cumulus clouds into the batter, a third at a time. Well, I did just that.
The frosting was a thick butter-cream. Since I was in no mood for frosting, I skipped this last step. If I do this, I will surely update.

There are a few things you need to know here.

  • In the novel, Lillian brings out eggs, milk, butter, flour, sugar and baking soda and places on the table. But while baking, she doesn’t use baking soda. So, I just added about 2g of baking soda to the flour and sifted both together.
  • Lillian doesn’t use any flavouring agent, either natural or artificial while baking. You may add it if you want.
  • She doesn’t mention pouring the batter into the cake mould or anything. So please use your commonsense and pour the batter into aluminium cake mould or tray, and then place it in the oven. The mould or tray should be greased and dusted before pouring the batter into it. Otherwise, half of your cake will be stuck to the mould itself.
  • About the baking temperature, I baked the cake at 180°C for 40 minutes. Preheat the oven at the same temperature for 5 minutes before placing the tray inside it.
Freshly baked cake for Helen and Carl. Just out of oven.

Freshly baked cake for Helen and Carl. Just out of oven.

The cake came out fine. Honestly, it was way more delicious than the ones baked following a proper recipe. But I am not a professional baker. I guess Lillian is right. Food turns out to be better when you follow your mood and sense than a recipe. The yellow colour of the cake is due to butter and egg yolk. Most of the recipes out there don’t recommend using egg yolks and only mention egg whites. If you decide to bake as per Lillian, do let me know what you think of it when compared to “recipe” cakes.

Bandaje Arbi

Bend It Like Bandaje Arbi

When I sat at the edge of Bandaje Arbi, I knew my heart would sing. I thought it might spontaneously sing “Hold me now, I am six feet from the edge” from Creed’s One Last Breath considering the plunge of about 200 feet from where I sat, but I was less than six feet from the edge, dangling my feet down for a wild creeper to miraculously wrap itself around me.

Almost there, huh?

Almost there, huh?

That’s when my heart sang Phillip Phillips’ Home which soothed my tired mind along with the mild summer roar and the splash of the waterfall. Why wouldn’t my heart sing that song? I felt more at home and it was so peaceful there, away from work. You would probably understand what I mean if you were there sitting beside me and listening to these songs. When I looked down from where I perched, I couldn’t help wondering about where I would hit first if I was to fall down from there? Would I fall on the canopy of the jungle on the banks of the stream that continues from the waterfalls or would I fall flat and splat on the rocks, and maybe my blood would say cheers? Yes, my thoughts would have sounded crazy enough if it was not for Hemanth, a fellow trekker, who came down to sit with me and echo my thoughts. I had already missed the sunrise, but wasn’t ready to miss the rest of the view.

Early morning view from the Bandaje Arbi

Early morning view from the Bandaje Arbi

When we started the trek from Bandaje village passing through the fringing estates of coastal commodities, a good lady confirmed the presence of water at the top. Her assurance was more than enough for me to keep drinking enough water to keep myself hydrated and not carry too much of water. You never know when the steep changes and when the private estates turn into forest area.

Starting point of Bandaje Arbi trek

Starting point of Bandaje Arbi trek

You just keep going and realise you need to stop when the trek organiser asks to stop. That’s what Sharath did. His intention was to group trekkers into two and trek again, but as and when we went ahead, we regrouped and re-regrouped as per our convenience, and let Sharath throw his hands in air in exasperation. But it doesn’t matter, does it? Because, we all made it to the peak and to the camping site. Trekking through the thick jungle under the canopy, with elephant dung here and there, was not exhausting. This situation turned barbaric as soon as we entered the grasslands. First of all, no trees to stop and rest in their shade. Last of all, forest fire burnt all the grass that had probably turned into hay. Trees that were randomly clawed by big cats gave way to raven coloured land sprinkled with soil.

One of the trees that was freshly clawed by a big cat

One of the trees that was freshly clawed by a big cat

But we had to keep going. For all we knew, there was water at the top for sure, but we were also sure not to get the easy place for camping. Why? Because we started somewhat late and there were about forty people already on that mountain ahead of us as per RFO’s information. Oh yeah, you have to pay trek fee at the base before entering the forest area.

When at the grasslands, you take a curve at a certain point on the trail and you see Bandaje Arbi for the first time on the trek.

First look of Bandaje Arbi

First look of Bandaje Arbi

I had seen Bandaje Arbi from far while returning from another trek a few months ago. On one side you get to see the beauty, and on the other side, you realise you still have a long way to go. To all those who want to know the difficulty level of this trek, I would say moderate to difficult, but if you are going during summer, it is effing gruesome. It felt like I was trekking for the first time in my life. I had to remind myself of a lesson that I learnt from my first trek. When you have come so far and not feeling like ascending anymore, you have only two options. One, to stay where you are and you can’t obviously stay midway. Two, go back. If you have enough energy to go back why not use the same to go ahead? We slogged to the peak to find the early birds already camped there. So, we heroically went down the valley using the rope which was secured down the way by even more heroic trek organisers of Alpha Trekkateers Club. Thus, even after reaching late, we got to camp beside the waterfall.

We camped here

We camped here

Somehow, I felt like Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter series. Don’t ask me why. We pitched tents and cooked dinner. We said good night, and I dozed off.

Our group chilling at the Bandaje waterfall

Our group chilling at the Bandaje waterfall

I reluctantly got up from where I was majestically seated and got going. All of twenty-three of us had breakfast that was cooked there, decamped and started to find the means to an end of this trek.

Camping site

Camping site

Meanwhile, many of us had taken a nap on the boulders in the shade of the trees. After the initial reluctance, we had no way but to go to Ballalarayana Durga.

Ballalarayana Durga

Ballalarayana Durga

Supposed to be fort back then and now a barn, and a disappointment. Not much of the fort left there. It was all downhill from there, literally, and descent isn’t as easy as it seems to be.

Downhill views were good

Downhill views were good

If you are wearing shoes, your toes curl up. If you are wearing floaters, try to keep your mind from not thinking about what would happen if the straps tear. Also, not to forget the grassland torture in the summer heat. Durgadahalli village was our trek’s end point. But the route to that village was confusing. It turned out that there is a spot for rappelling where we didn’t want to go. The routes to Durgadahalli and rappelling spot go together and can be misleading. Shouting each other’s names back and forth, all of us safely made it to the jungle and to the end point of the trek.

Rappelling spot

Rappelling spot

Sometimes you to get confused with the trails, especially during descent. Otherwise, you can find your way carefully through the forest. If during and post monsoon, leeches are your worst enemies, then in pre-monsoon or summer, the Sun is your enemy. About 300km from Bangalore, the Bandaje village from where you start your trek, is easily accessible through roadways. That’s the best thing about planning to trek in Karnataka. The total distance of the trek, that is ascent + descent, is about 25-26km.

By the way, Bandaje Arbi doesn’t bend much while plunging, but you would to take a look at her.

P.S. Arbi means waterfall.

Bandaje Arbi

Bandaje Arbi