You know what I love about baking? It allows me to put together all these random things I enjoy, and happen to be somewhat good at (I think). I could never figure out what I wanted to do all throughout my growing up, and even after I “grew up.” I was always good with numbers and logic, but never wanted to be a mathematician or accountant or analyst. I like figuring things out but never had the passion to be a scientist or do research or investigate homicides. I like creating things but being an architect just didn’t hit the spot for me (and if you’ve seen my burn and cut marks you’d know that I should never ever have a hammer and nail in my possession). I started writing poetry in the 8th grade, and thought I really enjoyed it and hence wanted to be a writer and started going to PSU for an English major, but it’s funny that I found myself more often in the kitchen then with my nose in a book. But baking still affords me the creative outlet that writing did, just in a visual way.
So there you have it. I get to geek out with numbers while my scientific side figures out why a recipe does or doesn’t work, all the while I’m creating this (hopefully) beautiful piece of edible art (doubly rewarding) that I get to be creative not only with its production but also in photographing it, and then when all is said and done, I get to write about it! What could be better? I love it when things just all seem to come together.
But, what I don’t love about baking is that sometimes things just don’t work out. I’ve made three different desserts in the last week or so and none of them have really turned out as planned. First I made a coffee cake with blackberries, bananas and concentrated pineapple juice. It was actually pretty tasty but the streusel recipe I used didn’t have anywhere near the amount of butter it should have had so the top of the cake wasn’t exactly superb.
Then I made key lime pie. Well, I made lime pie – where the hell they keep those key limes I’ll never know but I couldn’t find any. And when I was googling vegan key lime pie recipes I didn’t really like anything I saw. So I went to my Professional Baking textbook and looked up the classic version: two cans condensed milk, two eggs, lime juice. The idea is that the acid in the limes coagulates the proteins in the eggs, firming up your pie without baking it. I don’t know if lime juice coagulates tofu proteins but I gave it a shot, with the help of some agar agar… and I made my own vegan condensed milk. Crazy? Maybe, but the pie actually worked. The coconut whip cream that I was going to put on top did not however, so I don’t have a very pretty picture. I have an idea on how to stabilize the coconut whip though, so maybe next time.
And then a couple days ago I made a chocolate merlot cake. I’ve made chocolate merlot cupcakes before but, though they taste good, you can’t really taste the wine. So I poured some wine in a pan and reduced it by half – this evaporates the water and concentrates the flavors. The cake tasted ok but still not merloty enough for me. And my icing was just all wrong (texture was jacked – think I’m going to stop using vegan shortening). I attempted to do rosettes over the whole thing but screwed it up so…
So, all this is why there haven’t been any totally awesome (or kind of interesting) baking posts in the last week. Maybe the fourth time is the charm? Hopefully my oven will give me a little more love next time I visit him.