Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Seriously, not sure what's up with this.

Rule: I always drop food on the floor.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

O Hai, Humidity

I made candy last week. Not just any candy though, this candy. Tartelette is an awesome food/pastry blogger, and I admire her skill with food and cameras to no end! I highly recommend checking her blog out.

No, I didn't make the cake. It turns out that in my quest to learn how to bake, I also figured out a loophole to make it so I end up cooking.

Sugar/pasty work is hard. Lots of things can go wrong; even the slightest mistake can lead to your food not turning out right (see also: disastrous, sticky burning), and because of that, it's hard to tell whether recipes actually work. In making this, I was like, "Is the recipe not working right? Is my thermometer not calibrated correctly? Did I heat it up too much? Oh no, did I bump the pot? Is the thermometer crystalizing the sugar and reading incorrectly?" I also did a lot of thinking, "AAAAAUGHHH WHY IS THIS SO HARD???"

To be fair, however, I only failed twice. 3rd time, and ignoring the original recipe's the charm, apparently. Caveat: it is really humid here, so it's also unclear whether that affects the original recipe, even though the writer of the recipe is also in a humid part of the mid-Atlantic (see why this is confusing and complicated?). Fortunately for my sanity, I had previously made candy at a Hollywood Magic (or some other badass name) at a day camp at the best museum in the world: The Science Museum of Minnesota. Go there. Be in awe. So I knew that if I just made something like a lollipop, it would achieve the correct effect. I also found this really ugly and horribly designed website that also happens to be the most informative site on candy making out there. Please beware on behalf of your eyes. Has awesome troubleshooting and tips section.

AAAANYWAY, here was the final result.

Yes, you're seeing that correctly; not only did I not bake a cake, I didn't really have anything to stick it in besides this bread.

It was beautiful, thin, colorful, and delicious. Except then the humidity made it sticky. And bloomy aka ended up looking like it was molding. Then when I brought it to work to share, all the pieces stuck to each other in one giant, pointy, shard-y lump. HOWEVER at that point, they were still translucent and really did look like a stained glass window. I AM STILL COUNTING THAT AS A SUCCESS.

Rule: Sugar gets very hot and above the temperature boils at, and is STICKY. Meaning if you get some on you while hot, not only will be be worse than pouring boiling water on yourself, IT WILL ATTACH TO YOU. Please have a bowl of ice water for dunking hot body parts into just in case. Also, perseverance is delicious. As Tartelette says, do not fear the sugar!

Monday, August 2, 2010


My renewed effort to learn how to bake started with belligerently making clafoutis (not actually pronounced the way it looks in the title of this post) while the boy was off playing ultimate frisbee with other steely-calved peers. It's basically crepe batter on fruit and baked. I used this recipe: RECIPE. In all honesty, it doesn't taste as fancy as it looks, though it is quite tasty. I suppose "rustic dessert" is the most apt description. I'm not knocking on it, just sayin'. Looks rrl rrl fancy when you have individual ones in scalloped dishes. Like so:

(squeeee I made those!)

I may have been on the verge of yelling "I CAN *SO* BAKE!!" when I pulled them out of the oven. They weren't quite as custardy the next evening as I felt like they should have been, so I'm not sure what to add or subtract for more custard-texture-action; possibly more eggs? Less baking? Somebody with more experience, help me out here.

I think my next project will either be a reader-submitted recipe, or some wildly-difficult layer cake with crazy candy decoration which I will ultimately get frustrated at and chew with undue savagery. So uh... maybe somebody should post a recipe?

Also, I should really stage my food photos so I don't always need to use the macro setting to make it look good.

Rule: Butter and sugar will always smell great together.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Measuring, measuring, oh god, precision!


Lots of my friends have heard me complain about baking. Mainly, my fears about baking. In fact, I've probably blogged about it right here and completely forgot about it. There's a lot of measuring and precision in baking (or such it seems to me, since proportioning things also requires measuring). I've mentioned lots of times that once you put the whatever in the oven, there's no telling what will happen. It's with god, at that point. A big, fiery, gassy god with a mouth that glows and transforms things into baked goods. You can't add more egg or baking powder once you've tasted it, like when you're cooking. You gotta do everything right beforehand.

But I love cake. And cookies. And pie. I've already gotten good at the non-flour-based baked desserts, and I miss the pillowy, spongey comfort of flour. So I'm gonna do it. I'm going to try to learn how to bake without making myself a complete mess. Now that I have an oven that isn't the size of a laptop and tilted toward magnetic north. Deep breaths, measuring cups, and a patient boyfriend should get me through this, right? Any tips?

Rule: Measure twice, eat once. Wait, that's a shitty rule. If you can conquer your fears and produce cakes simultaneously, that's a pretty good deal. Wait, that's not really a good rule either. No rule this week. Leave your favorite baked-good recipe, and I will attempt it.

This is a slice of my boyfriend's bread. He has far surpassed me in baking skillz.