I do something crazy for a living. Something you would have to be insane to do. I am a middle school teacher, and I have often wondered if what I do is crazy or if I am indeed the crazy one for voluntarily doing it. Friday was a ridiculous day. Imagine a film about a threatening tornado with menacing sound effects and close-ups of worrisome faces but all the while in the style of a slapstick comedy where people are constantly slapping each other and calling each other knuckleheads before yanking on their noses and making fart noises along the way. This was Friday. In addition to nailing down a guest speaker for a school assembly last-minute and working on another production at the other school I work in (yeah, there are two), I was also entering large amounts of data, writing lesson plans, collecting information for my end of the year evaluation, planning for a summer curriculum project, scheduling rehearsals, emailing teachers to coordinate pulling students for in-school rehearsals, eating…sort of…and teaching over 100 students all in different grades, all doing different things. It was a long day.
There was, however, a bright shining light to the end of this long day, and that was cooking with my girl Sasha. I’ll start by introducing her as one of my oldest and closest friends. I won’t give away too much now because she is sure to be featured on our blog this summer. In the meantime, you can check her out at thefarmerandthegypsy.wordpress.com. I will tell you this; she is an amazing and accomplished chef in her own right and is always one hell of a good time. Hanging out with her after work made up for the circus tricks from earlier that day, and it was the only way I was going to make it through the caramel flan cheesecake recipe she chose for our get together.
We worked steadily so that everything went as planned. I worked the caramel sauce in the saucepan while Sasha prepped the sugar and cheese. I moved with the pan to glaze the bottom in caramel sauce, Sasha streamed heavy cream and worked each yolk separately into the cake mix. Our water bath was set. At 10pm we sat as the cheesecake cooked once in the oven for 90 minutes and continued with out the heat for another hour. Two hours to cool to room temperature, set in fridge overnight. Finally, sleep.
When I awoke in the morning, my first thought was “cheesecake…fridge…ready to flip…caramel sauce soaking into cake…mmm”. I imagined how it would seamlessly pull itself away from the cake pan, matching perfectly with the plate. How the first bite would melt in my mouth and how it was not right that Sasha was not with me for its unveiling. Sleepily I found myself with the cake in my hands standing over the kitchen counter marveling at the sultry top layer, perfectly golden and leveled…and to imagine the filling…the rich buttery yolk creamed with sugar and cheese…the specks of vanilla paste, the crumbling of orange zest and drippings of lemon juice. And as if it could not get any better, the nearly forgotten caramel sauce bottom…soon to be top…with its ribbons of rich gooey goodness sinking into the fluffy inside filling…my God. Time to flip.
Find plate. Carefully place on top. Measure. Flip. Nada. Shit. Flip over. Flip again. Zip. Shit. Knife? Navigate round edges. Flip. Fuck. Flip, call Sasha? Flip, pound? Pound again? Flip. Squat. Sad face. Shit.
Indeed the caramel sauce stuck to the bottom of the pan, therefore pieces needed to be cut or spooned out making for uneven pieces and less caramel flan taste than anticipated. After the first bite, I quickly realized it was more of a vanity issue because the cheesecake was still off the chain good, and it wasn’t so tough scrapping bits of caramel sauce off the bottom of the pan ;-). In the end, an upside down cake for an upside down day that all turned right side up, after all…thanks to Sasha, a job I do truly love, and cheesecake.