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Monday, April 16, 2012

The Cupcake Diaries - Ssula Emu

*I reserve the right to use this title more than once, as I anticipate there being a series of stories to tell (hence the "ssula emu", which means "chapter one" in Luganda). Thank you in advance for your cooperation.*

As many of you may know, I have a very unhealthy obsession with baked goods, sweets, and pretty much anything that has sugar in it, on top of it, or can be coated in icing. Given my recent requests for incoming trainees to download television shows based entirely on cupcakes, we should all recognize the depth of my obsession (along with the fact that I got a cupcake necklace, The Cupcake Diaries, and other cupcake relate items shipped to me, the further details of which will not be disclosed because I know I will be mocked endlessly…). With this obsession deeply rooted, I found myself accepting an invitation to go to Uganda, a country where ovens are scarce at best (imagine my horror!). There was definitely a long discussion with myself determining exactly how much I wanted to serve in Uganda compared to how much I would miss eating and baking for two years.

Apparently Uganda won.

So, I spent the few weeks before shipping out filling my body with every baked good imaginable in anticipation of not being able to eat them (at least not whenever I wanted to). I lived off of brownies, cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and varieties of all these (along with a substantial amount of 2% milk, knowing I probably wouldn’t get that either).

Well, imagine my surprise and joy when, a few months ago, a PCV friend discovered a website where a cake was cooked in a rice cooker. That’s right…A RICE COOKER! Now, without having this information ahead of time I somehow already had anticipated a need for a rice cooker and purchased one in Kampala (or course my “needs” for a rice cooker encompassed rice and pasta dishes, but now a whole new door has opened up for me).


After hearing about my friend’s successes I decided to put this rice cooker cake theory to the test. My lovely mother, who has always been too good to me, sent me a mix for marble fudge cake (go big or go home, right?) so I decided one Saturday it was time for me to try this whole baking in Africa thing (except it wasn’t really baking in Africa because I used electricity, not the whole pot in a pot on top of a coal fire method used by REAL PCVs), Happy Sabbath! Not really knowing how long it would take, I started in the morning (also anticipating the power to shut off at any point during the process I figured it was better to start earlier). I soon realized the quantity of batter was probably more than this website anticipated. After turning the rice cooker on COOK, I soon heard the click indicated it had switched to WARM. I checked and no, the cake was not done yet. Throughout the next hour I had to continually switch the rice cooker back to the COOK function only to hear it click back on WARM. Finally, I took some tape and taped it down to COOK, forcing it to stay there.

And then the rice cooker blew out.

Good job, Aditi.

Well, the good news is the cake cooked. The bottom burned a tad (and by a tad I mean it was completely black), but the center was moist and delicious! Unfortunately, my poor rice cooker seems to be out for the count. I discovered I do have a warranty on this bad boy, so maybe the next time I am in Kampala I’ll see if I can get it fixed (although my hopes are not high given that I’m in Uganda and getting anything fixed out here can be more of a hassle than it’s worth, but my PCV friend seemed to get his fixed without any problems so we’ll just see).

I shared most of the cake with the staff around my school and I haven’t heard any complaints yet, nor have I heard anyone running to the bathroom, which is also a good sign. I even got a “God Bless You” from one of the staffers…big day!

Upon checking up on the recievers of cake, I was met with numerous versions of “Thank you” (in English, Luganda, and what I can only assume in Luganda but with the mumbling and respectfully low voice used I couldn’t tell) and confirmations that the cake was in fact “very okay”. Yay!

And here are some pictures!

Initial stage:

During the cooking process:

The finished product:

Nom nom nom!


I could have probably eaten the whole thing...

Now I may actually have to start working out...


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