The Baker, part 4

A hazard of online grocery ordering is that sometimes you don’t check the size of an item carefully before you click “buy,” leaving you with a 6 oz package of tortellini or individual bag of Doritos where you’d clearly intended to buy a bigger bag. The website doesn’t ask: “You sure about that?”

So when she understands that she needs the five egg whites I unceremoniously tipped into the sink, she is immediately calmed by the realization that there is, for some reason, a carton of 15 eggs in the fridge. By the time I return to the kitchen to rescue the project she’s already got fresh egg whites in a bowl and is beating them with the electric mixer, seated on the kitchen floor.

The thing gets into a cake pan and then the oven with remarkable efficiency. I wash her dishes and wipe down the counters, feeling less like a put-upon parent are more like a baker’s assistant, happy for the privilege. She sets the timer for an hour and exits the kitchen to victoriously get ready for bed. Even for a strike-cancelled school night, it’s late.

She will see it through, though, and so when the cake is still gooey in the middle after the timer sounds, and when it still isn’t done after an additional 10 minutes, nobody is going to bed. It’s 11:00 before she can declare it completed and taste a token of her work. I should be annoyed that the evening–my evening–got pushed so late by a spontaneous project, but I’m not. I wonder if the number of late-night pound cakes baked isn’t a measure of the fullness of a life. I think she understands this better than I do.

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