We are living in harrowing times. Donald Trump — a failed businessman who in the ’90s constructed a plot to cheat a Japanese gambler out of millions, only to be foiled by the yakuza — is the president of the United States. For some people, this is great news. For others, it is the apocalypse. I myself have relapsed into my most shameful conspiratorial tendencies. Every new piece of Trump news, which unfurls into the public consciousness at an unrelenting clip, inspires a new set of worries. Will Steve Bannon enact his dream of a white ethno-state? Will the national guard be sent into Chicago? Will the U.S. allow for military escalation in Ukraine?
All of these concerns have taken a significant toll on my well-being, as well as my mental capacities. The other day, I feverishly shared a Medium post that deep down I knew made no sense, just to sound the alarm that THIS IS NOT NORMAL. Of course, mania is not helpful. I imagine Steve Bannon, in a lair somewhere wearing a Darth Vader mask, gleefully watching people like me writhe in pain at every new Donald Trump tweet. “Excellent,” he whispers, sounding exactly like Mr. Burns.
If you are like me and need something, anything, to occupy your time and mental energy while the world ostensibly falls apart, you should try baking.
Known colloquially as “stress baking,” preparing baked goods in times of crisis is, I’ve found, as therapeutic a solution as any. Recently, I made chocolate orange muffins from my favorite cookbook, How to Boil an Egg, by Rose Carrarini of the fantastic Rose Bakery. If you’re a beginner, it’s a great recipe as it is simple enough to follow and pretty hard to screw up. The first time I made these muffins, I mixed up teaspoons and tablespoons of baking powder and everything was fine!
The best part of this recipe in particular, though, is that it calls for grating two oranges, which is actually a great way to let out your feelings of anger toward a certain orange-tinted politician.
Chocolate Orange Muffins
From How to Boil an Egg: Poach One, Scramble One, Fry One, Bake One, Steam One by Rose Carrarini (available here)
- butter, for greasing
- 225 g (2 cups) plain flour
- 100 g (½ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 40 g (⅓ cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 100 g (generous ½ cup) chocolate chips
- 2 eggs
- 175 ml (¾ cup) milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- grated zest of 2 oranges
- 120 ml (½ cup) sour cream
- 100 g (7 tablespoons) butter, melted
- melted chocolate and glacé (candied) orange, to decorate (optional)
- Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.
- Grease and line a 6-8 cup muffin pan with butter and baking parchment.
- Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into a bowl, and stir in the chocolate chips.
- Beat together the eggs, milk, vanilla, orange zest, sour cream, and melted butter in another bowl, then carefully fold into the dry ingredients without overmixing until the mixture just comes together.
- Fill the prepared muffin cups to about three-quarters full, and bake for about 20 minutes.
- You can drizzle melted chocolate on top when the muffins have cooled and a slice of candied orange if you’re fancy.