Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What A Difference A Year Makes...Or Not

Baking Day
November 16, 2011
Rating: Productive with a dash of the usual mishaps

We have a Newbie in our group. Another Texas transplant named Stacey. Like I once was, she was feeling sheepishly intimidated by all of the experienced bakers in the kitchen.

"Don't be," I assured her. "I screw it up all the time but things always manage to work out."

It was about this time last year that I was attempting to make a cornbread stuffing for Thanksgiving.  It seemed simple enough.  I was doubling a recipe.  Unfortunately I increased the Baking Powder (or of those) too much.  Laurel tasted it and tried to make me think it was OK.  Caren tasted it and suggested that we scrap the whole batch and start over.

"Toss it over the deck.  The birds and squirrels will eat it."

I took the huge pan of cornbread stuffing out to the deck and cried as I sent crumbled chunks of it over the railing.

The next day that I was at Caren's I expected that the crumbs would have all been eaten by some sort of mountain critter. 

But no.

And not the next day either.

Or the next.

For nearly a week, the Cornbread Crud littered Caren's side yard and remained untouched.

"Not even the critters will eat it!"  I would wail.

Now that I have over a years worth of experience under my apron strings, one would think that I could handle myself quite well in the kitchen.  One would think...

Today I attempted to make pumpkin carrot bars from a recipe I got here.  I was doing two doubled recipes.  Everything was going great with the first batch.  There was a lot of tasting as I went and all who dipped a finger agreed that this was going to be a tasty treat!  I poured the batter onto a jelly roll pan, popped it into the oven, and began batch #2.

As I began re-reading the recipe I realized that I had not included the dry ingredients into the first batch which was already baking in the oven.  Four ingredients!  Critical.

There was a lot of good natured chuckling at what has become an expectancy.  I can't seem to make it through a Baking Day without some little dink.

"Oh Michal!  You make me feel so much better about myself!" ribbed Stacey.

So the jelly roll pan was removed from the oven and dumped back into the bowl.  I added the flour, pumpkin spice, baking powder and baking soda (basically everything that makes a cake a cake) that I had previously missed.  The jelly roll pan was cleaned, re-greased and floured, and the new batter was poured back in.

Whew!  That was a near disaster.

Back to my second batch.  This time I paid close attention to all that was called for in the recipe.

Batch 1 was finished and Batch 2 went in. 

"Something's burning," announced one of the ladies.

We peeked in the oven to see Batch 2 overflowing onto the floor of the oven.  Someone grabbed a cookie sheet and shoved it under the pumpkin bars to catch the spill over.

"Par for the course."  I remind them.

"You are handling this so well," Stacey whispered.  "I would be in tears at this point."

"Oh, I have and do!  After awhile though..."

Laurel's gorgeous buttermilk bread
I helped the ladies with their baking projects, i.e. I tasted things.  There were two varieties of cookies, frozen biscuit dough, buttermilk bread, and banana muffins.  Batch 1 had turned out pretty good.  Everyone agreed that it was a keeper!  Batch 2 finally finished.  The oven was a bit of a disaster but the pumpkin bars still looked like they would be tasty.

After cleaning the oven I sat back for a salad, fritatta and coffee with home made Bailey's.  I enjoyed my lunch and the company of my baking ladies.  Someone was discussing their own recipe and the ingredients that went into it.  Something was said about butter.


It suddenly hit me that I did not include butter in Batch #2.

"Oh no!"  I cried.


"I forgot the butter!"

There was another round of laughter at my expense.

"You are so entertaining!"  Stacey quipped.  That is not the first time that has been said of me at a Baking Day.  I'm always glad to do so and love to help boost anothers self-esteem.  (It turns out that Batch 2 was just as good as Batch 1, so if you want your pumpkin bars to be reduced fat, simply eliminate the butter.)

When Caren's daughter was dropped off from school, she and her friend dove into the baked goods that were spread about the kitchen table.  With in minutes of her friend leaving I received a text, "SO DELICIOUS!  Can I pretty please get the pumpkin cheese cake bread recipe?"


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