Yes, I baked a cake. A sheet cake, not from scratch, but from a mix, with bought icing. Still, I baked a cake.
And why did I do such a thing? The churches in my area serve a lunch once a week called Second Helpings for those who might not get a good meal at other times, or who just want to socialize with others over a meal.
It was my church’s turn to cook, and my United Methodist Women circle got the dessert assignment. I volunteered to bake one of the cakes. I did so more than a month ago, so it seemed fairly safe at the time. As the time drew nearer to actually do the work, though, I got anxious.
|Cake batter in the disposable foil pan I used so I wouldn't have to worry about getting a pan returned to me.|
Cooking on the stove is a 98 on my fear hierarchy for checking. But I found out that cooking something in the oven was less anxiety producing than cooking on the stovetop.
I think that may be because the eye on the stovetop seems more dangerous to me than the oven. It’s so hot and so “right there,” and if I don’t turn off the stove properly, my husband could get burned by touching it, or a paper towel or something that rests against it could cause a fire.
Years ago, I let a pot run over and a fire started on the stovetop. I was able to put it out, but it scared me and made me even more anxious about cooking than I already was.
Also, cooking on the stovetop can produce splashes of food. That bothers my contamination OCD.
|Cake right out of the oven.|
I would put my SUDs score for cooking in the oven at about a 90.
I felt that 90 when it was time to turn off the stove. I turned it off just once, which was a lot better than some incidences in the past when I’ve turned it off and on and off and on over and over.
I did stare at the on/off button, with my reading glasses and without. And I did stop when I got a “right” feeling. But I didn’t ask my husband to check behind me, even though I really wanted to. I knew that I needed to take care of the matter myself.
My anxiety level stayed up for probably about an hour after turning off the stove, slowly ebbing away to about a 40. And I was able to forget about whether or not the stove was off.
I think I was helped by all my recent work on my checking compulsions.
|Cake with icing.|
I also had some contamination OCD anxiety with the whole cooking thing, more than I thought I would.
One reason was because I had to use eggs, and I am weird about eggs. I’m so afraid of spreading salmonella or some other disease if I don’t clean up after the egg use.
In other words, I worried about the spot in the sink where I set the eggshells once I cracked the eggs, and I worried about any splashes from the mixing bowl on the counter.
So I cleaned with soap and water and with disinfectant cleaner after I had the cake in the oven.
The funny thing is, I have no qualms about eating cake batter, which has uncooked eggs in it. I’m not afraid of getting salmonella—just afraid of spreading it to others.
Then I thought about the quality of the cake. I worried aloud about what if the cake didn’t taste good.
My husband replied, “Well, you’ll never know.”
And I won’t. I wasn’t present when it was eaten, so I won’t ever know people’s reactions to it. That reminder from my husband helped that worry to dissolve.
The next morning, as I prepared to take the cake to the drop-off site, my husband said, “That cake sure looked good.”
“But I didn’t get to eat any.”So it looks like I’ll be making another cake soon. For my husband.
Do you have any anxieties about cooking?