Last week, I suffered a major baking blow: I learned that batter was out, and I’m not talking about baseball here. I’m speaking of the recent cake-mix recall. Betty, how could you betray my trust? Turns out the flour in the mix was contaminated with E. coli. All these years I thought batter was bad because of potential Salmonella in raw eggs, but now raw flour is on the forbidden list as well. I wasn’t up to another loss. Licking the spatula is my baking nirvana.
Of course this recall was announced during a heavy baking week, starting with the Weird Cookies. (Once you hear what’s in them, you’ll understand the name.) Imagine chocolate chip cookie dough with bran flakes and cheddar cheese instead of chips. I know, protein and fibre in your cookie sounds a bit odd, and may lead one to mistake them for healthy, but they are addictive. I begged J. to let me bake them for her work mates just because. They gobbled up every last one and asked for the recipe, of course.
Armed with my new knowledge, as I mixed the weird dough I repeated the mantra: “Bad batter, bad batter.” Did it stop me from licking? Absolutely not. Strike 1. Despite my best effort to scrape every last bit of batter into the cookies, I let a little dough pass these lips before I got the rest safely into the oven. The heat would eradicate any remaining dangerous bacteria.
A few days later, I baked a birthday cake for a friend’s party. (Remember the underbaked cupcakes we brought to last year’s celebration? Those cupcakes could have made everyone sick, I now realize.) I was doing pretty well, cleaning out the bowl as best as I could with my trusty spatula, but suddenly I couldn’t hear my mantra over my licking. Strike 2. That batter was mighty tasty, I must say. Then I overbaked the cake to ensure I’d killed everything bad off. True confession: I overbaked the cake because that’s just what I do.
Wait, there’s more. The cream-cheese icing. I hadn’t even considered the dangers of spoiled milk products! I conducted a thorough internet search on how long to soften cream cheese before bad bacteria would take hold, only to learn there are far too many opinions on this matter. I created the smoothest cream-cheese icing ever because, by many accounts, I left the cheese on the counter far too long. Whoops! And icing doesn’t get baked. Need I confess to tasting it anyhow, only to assess the tart-sweet balance, of course? Strike 3 and I’m out, or am I?
Should someone like me, who has just overcome a serious C. diff infection, be risking my 4-1/2 lbs of healthy gut bacteria–yes, you read that correctly–by ingesting food-borne contaminants? Miraculously, I survived any potential health risks with nary a stomach ache.
J. and I conveniently left the party early so I can’t tell you how the guests’ guts fared. Hopefully nobody cried foul.