The husband and children are the designated bakers in the household. But for this occasion, I decided that I can indeed bake a cake. After all, I figured out all those lovely flavored whipped creams and have baked batches of strawberry muffins this summer. How hard could a 2-layer cake with a filling, frosting and toasted coconut be?
Lemon pudding with coconut for the filling layer. A hybrid cream cheese/whipped cream frosting.
Things were going well.
All that was left was to toast the coconut. A short broil on the top rack of the oven and I'm done. I even set the timer so as not to overdo or worse, forget.
And suddenly, I was in an "I Love Lucy" episode. Oven and smoke detectors beeping at different intervals and different frequencies. I'm flittering around, simultaneously getting our fire extinguisher, opening all the windows to get the smoke detectors to stop, getting ready to dial 911, and above all, trying not to panic 'for real.'
"Do I call 911 if it looks like the fire will be contained to the oven? Should I use fire extinguisher? Will it be overkill, especially if it trashes the oven? What about that episode of Mythbusters where they showed that an oven fire can smother itself out when the door closed and all the oxygen is used up? When can I open the oven to see if the oxygen is actually used up? Really, what is my threshold for using the fire extinguisher? If the house actually catches fire, how am I going to drive soccer carpool this afternoon?
Thankfully, the small tray of coconut flakes did indeed burn itself out in 90 of the longest seconds of my life.
Here is what I learned that:
1. 5 minutes is WAY TOO LONG to broil a small tray of coconut flakes.
2. Unsweetened coconut flakes are quite flammable. Pretty much like dry sawdust soaked in, well, coconut oil.
3. F2 on your oven indicator means there is a fire in it. In case the smoke emanating from it isn't enough of a clue. And no, I do not have a photo, although my husband did ask.
4. Oxygen deprivation is very, very effective for extinguishing a SMALL, fully-contained fire, but very, very bad for your thinking ability and health in general. Remember to breathe in crisis moments.
5. If you open the oven to see if the fire is out, oxygen will whoosh right in and revive the fire. This was my "Backdraft" moment. Use the oven light instead.
And in all seriousness, a fire extinguisher is a NECESSITY in your kitchen. If this were anything larger than a small flat pan of coconut flakes, I would have used it in a heartbeat, or gotten out of Dodge and called 911.