Saturday, March 22, 2008

at least I didn't drink it

"Hey, guess what I did?"
"Um... something stupid?"
Disappointed pause.
"How did you guess?"

So... do you remember yesterday? The day I was going to spend all day baking, when there was nothing I had to do but buy groceries, tidy up a bit and bake up a storm?

Well, somehow I didn't start until 3:30.

I know! I don't know how I managed it, either! Well... my alarm went off at 6 (oh yes, I had big goals) and I thought about getting up. Really I did! And... then I didn't.

And then when I did, I had to make a grocery list. And I didn't really want to, so I put it off. And I read through the french bread essay again (can't call it a recipe -- no recipe should ever be that long) and decided, alas, that I was not brave enough on that particular morning.

So it was 11 by the time William finally talked me into making a real list. And then I had to go shopping, and stop by the library, and since I wasn't making french bread I had to find another recipe, so I wandered happily around the cooking aisle 'til I found The Bread Bible. And then I came home, at lunch, put away the food... started reading the bread bible... kept reading the bread bible...

I didn't end up putting anything in the oven until 9 p.m. Pretty pathetic, huh?

The bread turned out okay, though -- basic hearth bread, from The Bible. The crust scared me with how dark it was, but it was fine. I think, though, that I'll take a break from the artisan breads and work on basic sandwich breads for a while -- the cinnamon-raisin bread that I made was definitely the best I've done so far, and it was distinctly non-artisan.

I also baked cookies. Sigh.

Sigh, sigh, sigh. I baked these cookies -- they came with multiple recommendations, so I trusted them, even if the recipe did come from Martha Stewart. I glanced over the recipe, thought, "well, this looks easy enough!" and dove right in.

Speaking of which, I used Dove chocolates -- with my coupons, it was cheaper than buying even the cheapest baking chocolate. I melted half the bag, and chopped the other half. In the process, I got way more sappy advice than I've really ever wanted. "Smile... everyone will wonder what you've been up to." "Be mischievous." "Listen to your heartbeat and dance."

I placed the chocolate for melting in my double boiler and watched the steam do its wonderful, wonderful work. I love my double boiler so incredibly much -- but that's a story for another day. Because right now, we should all be focusing on the fact that it was only chocolate that I put into that gleaming thing of beauty, despite the fact that the recipe clearly states, "melt the chocolate WITH THE BUTTER."

I actually got all the way to the end of the recipe, and was breaking off bits of the dough and putting them on the cookie sheet, before it occurred to me. "Wow," I thought. "This is the thickest cookie dough I've ever worked with." Literally -- breaking pieces off.

Sudden pause. Mental revisiting of all the ingredients. "Does it really not call for any butter?"

I kind of wanted to just try it cooking it as it was, and seeing how it worked -- an experiment! But there was a whole bag of delicious chocolate in there, and if it came out dreadful, it would have been so tragic... and besides, it was the BUTTER that I left out, not something silly and minor like, well, anything else! What would cookies be without butter? It would be like a day without sunshine, or a life without love, or ice cream with the fat and sugar taken out. Blasphemy!

So, I melted a stick of butter and poured it over my bowlful of thick, stubborn, fudgy dough.

Have you ever tried to add butter at the END of a cookie recipe? It's freaking hard! I ended up kneading that cookie dough in the bowl -- it was the only thing that seemed to work. And the result was distinctly greasy.

I cooked them anyway, and they turned out okay. Pretty good, even, mostly because of how much chocolate there was... but I think they could have been better.

oh well. Live and learn.

(p.s. -- Paula Deen really did)

1 comment:

Steve said...

Hi Camilla,

You wrote that you've been reading the Bread Bible. Is it the one by Rose Levy Beranbaum? If you want to try a really unique bread baking challenge, try the Rosemary Focaccia recipe. It's really unusual because it has a really high ratio of flour to water and it takes a lot of faith that it's going to work. :) You do need a Kitchen Aid mixer with the paddle attachment though, NOT the dough hook. You beat the dough for 20 minutes to get the gluten really worked up. When it's done it looks soft and stringy like melted mozarella cheese. Then you let it rise and it bubbles up to double or triple size. After that you carefully pour it out onto a large cookie sheet with edges, gently stretch it out, let it rise some more and then bake it quickly in a really hot oven. A couple tips: Spray the sheet with cooking spray not olive oil or this very sticky dough will stick to the sheet. Also I would recommend using a whole teaspoon of yeast. Give it a try! :)

- Steve Gerber