This story is for the Your Daily Word Prompt word – ‘Anxious’
This is what I c-came up with …
That’s a kitchen on a stage and I have to go out there in front of all those people and cook on it. What could be more terrifying than that? I’m not even out there yet and I’m sweating, my stomach hurts and I feel like I need to pee. Yup! I’m extremely anxious right now.
“Okay, ladies and gentleman, were just seen Lina Kermis demonstrate her award-winning beef wellington. We have two award winners left and before we move on to dessert, we have a little treat…”
That’s Tina Kay the presenter talking. At least she’s cute and I get to cook next to her – if I can avoid a heart attack in the next few minutes anyway. Who’s knows maybe if she likes my cake, she might let me put more buns in the over for her later. Shit! Did I just say that aloud? Oh well, secrets out I suppose – you can keep it a secret, can’t you? Come on, calm down its only one —
“… Mickey Bryan.”
The audience is cheering my name!
“Get out there, Mickey. It’s your turn to bake!” urges the producer.
“Oh shit!” I feel my adrenaline spike and my heart pounds like a bass drum in my chest. I’m sweating more than ever and even my glasses can’t focus my blurred vision now.
I nod to the producer and walk through the curtain. Of course, I kick the step and stumble into view eliciting a few giggles from the applauding audience.
“Welcome, Mickey.” Tina squeezes my shoulder and welcomes me with a kiss on the cheek.
Holy crap! She kissed me! “H-hello Tina.”
“So, your supreme sponge cake was chosen as the best one out of forty in the running. That’s incredible!”
“T-thank you … I— I’m a nittle bit lervous …” yup being anxious means something else is in control of your bloody tongue. “S-sorry, yeah this is incredible for me.” I swallowed and tried to force my anxiety and nerves out of the ‘Oh shit!’ zone to somewhere a little lower and calmer.
“Ok, well, we’re all anxious to learn your secrets. Please begin.” Tina gives me a beautiful white smile.
“Err-erm, yeah. T-the key to a spood gonge cake—” stupid tongue! “is in the prep-aration.” I picked up and immediately dropped one of the two cake tins. It shoots across the stainless-steel surface and clatters into the sink.
The audience laughs at me.
Red in the face, I sigh and continue, “So, after you throw your eight-inch tins across the kitchen.”
The audience titters some more. At least they’re having a good time.
“Proceed to lightly grease the tins and line with the right s-size greaseproof paper. These are ready.” Bloody good job! This nervous the scissors won’t work or I’ll cut a sodding finger off! “W-we also have our oven pre-set to one-fifty centi-grade.”
“Excellent. What’s the first step in making the cake?” Tina asked.
I was clearly taking to long. “S-sorry Tina. I er right- M-most-recipes-call-for-butter.” I spat out before she lay a hand on my shoulder.
“Take it easy.”
I took a huge breath and gazed at my feet for a moment. My mouth was dry and forget needing a spit bucket at round four in a boxing match; I needed a sweat bucket! “Sorry, about that. So, most r-recipes call for butter, I always use margarine. It is naturally softer and gives b-better texture to the finished cake. W-we g-go into our mixer with eight-point-three ounces of margarine, and c-caster sugar. The p-point t-three extra butter is a secret of mine to give that extra b-buttery taste.”
“Nice tip. Oh, not icing sugar instead of caster then?” Tina asked.
I add my margarine to the mixing bowl plumbed into the electric mixer, and pour half the sugar on the bloody worksurface. I shake my head, cursing my clumsiness. “N-no icing sugar would-um. would make the mixture to thin. The cake would turn out sticky.”
“T-thank you for the excellent q-question, Tina. So, I add a t-teaspoon of vanilla ex-extract and one of my four-eggs.” Thank fricassee for the fact those are already cracked into bowls for me! “We set that going? We want to whisk on high for a good t-three to f-five minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.” I set the mixer going and breathe a sigh of relief as it actually works.
“You’re doing well, lovely. Keep it going.” Tina whispers over the noise of the machine whirring away.
“O-okay this is nicely combined. I-n with the remaining three eggs and back on at high speed to introduce m-maximum air to our mix.” I flick the mix on again, turn to get rid of the egg bowl, miss the sink and smash it on the pissing floor.
‘Blithering idiot!’ I yell inwardly. My heart twinges as my anxiety returns. I switch off the mixer as a stagehand cleans up the glass. “Okay, so now we’ve demolished half the kitchen —”
The audience falls about laughing. I laugh at myself too.
“We have nicely mixed our wet i-ingredients.” I reach out for my flour and my glasses slide off my sweaty nose right into the bowl. “Huh, now we a-add our eight-ounces of self-raising f-flour. Glasses optional!”
The audience is bursting with giggles at my expense.
I clean my glasses on my apron quickly and swear at myself some more. “I-If you can’t get self-raising, p-plain flour with one and a half teaspoons of baking powder will do the trick.”
“Nice tip,” Tina says with a smile.
“I won’t mix in my glasses today. But let’s add the flour and set the mixer at a low speed to combine that nicely.” I’m beginning to enjoy this now thanks to the laughter.
“This is looking a good creamy mix.”
“It is.” I grin at Tina. “It’s a little thick so one tablespoon of milk and a quick mix will make it perfect.” I give the mix a final razz and then try to take the bowl off the stand. It won’t move no matter how I twist and turn it – stupid thing.
“Here, let me.” Tina places a calming hand on my shaking one. “I think everybody wrestles with these mixers, don’t they?”
“Yeah!” chimes in the audience. They cheer as Tina hands the bowl to me.
“Thank you, Tina.” I bring back my baking tins. “Divide the mixture evenly with a spatula and smooth it out. T-these go in the o-ven for twenty-five minutes until browned and a cocktail stick comes out clean.” I look at the oven in the back wall of the set and gulp. It’ll probably launch fireballs at the audience when I open it.
Tina takes one tin and I follow with the other. “We don’t have the time to wait for these to rise, ladies and gentleman. Instead here are some Mickey baked off earlier for us.” Tina reveals several nicely risen and finished cakes on racks.
I carry a pair of unfinished ones over to the centre surface again. “A-always turn your cakes out immediately when cooked, run a knife around them when stuck if you need. Pull off the paper base and you’re ready to fill them.” I grab a bowl of buttercream and amaze myself by not dropping it. “This is vanilla buttercream. I’m told my recipe for that is on the website. Use your favourite jam to layer up one cake first and then a good dollop of the cream on top before placing the top layer of cake on. You can see on the website many varieties including chocolate and fresh strawberry. But here you have my supreme sponge cake.”
“Thank you, Mickey.” Tina leads a round of applause and I bow so low I hit my head on the work surface and then flee the stage. Me being anxious ruined my entire demonstration but at least I survived with only a mild concussion and floury glasses.
Have a great day!