Leafing through the yellowed pages of her mother’s journal were the pages she had been looking for ,crisp from frequent turnings, marked by small blobs of batter, a ring from an inadvertent cup of tea. No internet search could find this recipe. Siobahn needed this to be perfect. Pound cake? Too heavy. Sponge cake? Too inconsequential. Apple cake? Too familiar. Here it was – chocolate cake. Just the thing to capture his heart.
The eggs had been nesting in a ceramic bowl on the table since breakfast, since he had texted to say that he accepted her invitation to dinner. At her place. The first time they would meet outside of coffee shops and nature walks. Everything had to be just so.
She put on the kettle for tea. Earl Grey? No, too proper. It had to be chai, for the complexity and the headiness of the spices. Next, music. U2? Too intense. Coldplay, the live cd – the one with the butterfly.
Chocolate squares, six of them. Double-boiler. The water, once bubbling, reduced to a soft simmer. Wooden spoon, stirring steadily clockwise so that the chocolate would transform from its solid state to liquid. Not seize. Or burn. That would ruin everything. She slid the pot off the heat. Flour now. Wisps floated and mingled with motes suspended in sunlight then settled on the dark countertop like the first snow. Siobhan traced a heart, the right side first, the shape of a question mark. The left side its mirror image. Pffffff... Siobhan blew the flour away, making a wish.
Sugar next, eggs. Adding each ingredient in order, like an incantation. It needed something more though, that one unexpected ingredient to distinguish itself from those grocery-store cakes. She untopped the vanilla. No, that would clash with the redolence of the chocolate. Orange zest? Too perky. She closed her eyes and imagined her mother encircled in her father’s arms. Lavender. The slightest hint.
Poured the batter into a stainless steel cake pan. Into the pre-heated oven. To the garden now for the final touch. The edible garnish. Rose petals? Too obvious. Nasturtium? Too common. There – that’s what she wanted: forget-me-nots.