Thursday, June 30, 2011

womp womp

lesson learned: hold the bag by the base (also, yes, that is the same bottle of V8 fusion juice that's been in that same place on the counter for, well, don't even ask me how many months)

cute? yes. precise? maybe not so much...

egg separation fail

lesson learned: frozen berries go rogue in the oven

For what I lack in meal preparation skills, I like to think I make up for in the baking arena.  I don't say this because I like to brag, but because I feel like I should be able to do at least something right in the kitchen. 

And usually, I can.  Usually, I can make an addictive batch of chocolate chip cookies for overseas friends, or a spot-on tiramisu for Sunday girls dinner.  I've expanded the repetoire lately to include the often-baked blueberry buttermilk cake, and I have a bevy of bookmarked links with new things to try.

So when my office decided we needed to send our boss off in style, I offered to crank out a few things for our final staff meeting with her.  I already knew my new go-to guy, mr. blueberry buttermilk, was going to make an appearance.  But this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to yank Pioneer' Woman's coffee cake recipe right out of the "someday file."  The Pioneer Woman's recipes have never failed me (see: bbq sauce, shortbread cookies), and I'm a sucker for anything with that much butter (there must be some French lineage in there somewhere...). 

Things did not get off to a fortuitous start.  As I was attempting to grease and flour the bundt pan, I grabbed the (very full) bag of flour by the top, and dropped a good cup to cup and half of flour in the sink.  After I defrosted a plethora of frozen blueberries, I dripped bright blue juice all over the floor.  As that cake baked, I noticed a remarkable absence of blueberries (meaning they'd all sunk to the bottom of the pan, which, unfortunately, became a very unattractive TOP of the cake). 

If all else fails, I've got the Pioneer Woman cake, I thought.

So while the blueberry cake baked along in the oven (losing a few reliability points, mind you) I chopped pecans, I creamed butter and sugar, I separated eggs....or should I say "I tried to separate eggs?" As i was cracking egg number two of three, I managed to drop a bit of yolk into my bowl of whites.  And I didn't have enough eggs to just start over.  Trying to embrace the Pioneer Woman's nonchalant attitude, I rolled with it (after kicking myself). 

When it came time to beat the egg whites into stiff peaks, I felt like the tiny bit of yolk was leading the whole crew on a revolt, because after several minutes of trying (with an electric mixer and with a whisk), I admitted defeat and accepted that the eggs were staunchly against moving past the soft peak stage. I folded them in to the batter, threw it in the pan, and poured the sinful topping on there (I say sinful because, well, it's butter, sugar, cinnamon, and pecans.  Heavy on the first two). 

I mean, really how big of a deal are properly beaten eggs? Right?

So, while me and my type A self would've been content to sit in front of the oven and watch the cake (hopefully) bake up properly, I had about eighty bajillion dishes to contend with.  See, I always start out all "clean as you go" and organized.  Then egg yolks go rogue, blueberry juice is all over the floor, the egg whites join the egg yolks in revolt, and I just don't have time to worry if the counter is littered with various tools that were pressed in to duty in an attempt to stave off a kitchen uprising.  

After what seemed like ages, my hands were pruney, but the casualties around the kitchen had all been accounted for and were scrubbed and drying peacefully on various towels.  I finally had time to check on the cake.

It was puffing up, not at all like the delicious "sinking" of the sinful toppings as Pioneer Woman had described in her recipe.  Even when I pulled it out of the oven and gave it a gentle (ok, maybe slightly violent) thwack on the counter, there wasn't much settling. 

But I am happy to report that when both coffee cakes were sliced up in oh-so-professional fashion (thanks to my years behind the counter at Midtown Cafe), they were incredible.  The Pioneer Woman cake in particular was a hit (I mean, three sticks of butter might be responsible for that...just sayin).  If there was any lingering hesitancy to my acceptance here in the office, I think it was decimated by the coffee cake. 

So anyways...normally "stress baking" manages to assuage whatever nagging worries have been keeping me awake at night.  The farewell coffee cakes certainly distracted me, but they were a little unexpectedly stressful.  Nevertheless, the overall success of the endeavor has re-convinced me that I can do at least one thing right in the kitchen, even if said kitchen ends up covered in blueberry juice.

No comments:

Post a Comment