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  • Writer's pictureSonia Aste

Baking Bad

I want to bake my cake and eat it too.

Not all at once! I tried that with Sainsbury’s PECAN PIE and will spare you the image of having to “discard” it in the middle of the night. Suffice to say that I can’t go past the ‘nut’ section in supermarkets without searching for a vomit bag.

I love cakes, and YES, I am aware they are FULL of empty calories … but they are happy calories! Whenever I have a cake slice, fireworks explode inside my head, spelling: ‘Ryvita die!’

In the past, I always ate store-bought cakes, staring transfixed (cereal-box-style) at the natural? ingredients: Dried Whey, Emulsifier Humectant, coagulant (as in blood?), Agents E450, E481 and E471 (at least it’s not Orange agent).

Nutritionists now say these ingredients are extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. I gave up smoking long ago; it would be cruel if it ended with an incurable disease from eating cake!

I decide baking is the way to go. Besides the yumminess of eating cake straight out of the oven, experts praise the emotional reward of sharing it with those you love. How true! Except for the sharing bit.

‘The Great British Bake Off’ is a mighty motivator! I watch in wonder as one of the ‘best amateur bakers in the land’ forgets to turn the oven ON for an hour and still manages to get through! Well, how hard can this baking thing be?

Plus, let’s not forget we’re Toastmasters! Firmly convinced (some call it brainwashed) into thinking we can BE whatever we want! It, therefore, follows I can BAKE whatever I want to BAKE.


So, I buy the books, the standard spoons and cups (hoping they’ll measure up – haha) and look forward to the day when people look at me with love and whisper, ‘She’s so WON-DER-FUL! She BAKES her own CAKES!’ Aww …! (I still ain’t sharing). 

I start with CHEERFUL CHOCOLATE CAKE – the recipe says, ‘This cake will stimulate your senses’.


And it does!

I hear the fire alarm go off, and through thick smouldering smoke see EASY CHOCOLATE has turned into an oversized hockey puck.

I figure it’s a beginner’s mistake, and focus on BAKEWELL TART. I love tarts, as did my ex-husband, but that’s another story. The photograph looks good enough to eat! I should have just eaten the page; it would have tasted better. It’s not called ‘bake well’ for nothing.

Hoping for a third time lucky, I go for CLASSIC CARROT CAKE. It promises to ‘delight your inner child!’ and it would because there’s enough sugar in this to give any kid a cocaine high for days.

And again, disaster! 

It looks like green slime, except orange.

I have a tantrum! ‘Why didn’t you just buy M&S CHOCOLATE FUDGE that we all like?’ Which is very worrying. I’m talking to myself again. And who’s we?

I call my sister, who is a renowned pastry Chef. I hear you asking, ‘Why didn’t you call her in the first place?’ Well, because she’s beautiful, kind, generous, and the nicest person ever, everything is going well for her and … I can’t stand it!

I relent, ‘What’s your secret for making great cakes?’

‘Just follow the recipe and practice. Would you like me to come around and help?’

See what I mean? She’s like the icing on every cake! 

I’m tempted to go back to store-bought ones and suffer death-by-cake-contamination. Then again, the most rewarding things in life are those you work really hard to obtain. 

Take my Toastmaster journey. My early speeches were so bad they made a chocolate hockey puck look like a Viennese Sacher Torte! But I didn’t give up. With my club’s help, I stuck to the organisation’s recipe; a sound methodology and that all-important sprinkle of support and encouragement. 

I wish I could tell you my speeches are like my sisters’ Angel Food Cake (heavenly wonderful), but I’m getting there. As one fellow Toastmaster pointed out, ‘If we can do it for public speaking, learning other skills is a piece of cake’. 

Time to follow the age-old advice: 



Sonia Aste is a Harvard MBA, Engineer, MEng, writer and comedian. She’s a Toastmaster and member at Riverside Communicators Club. More from Sonia on her websiteTwitterFacebookInstagram

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