Saturday, 16 February 2013

Saturday morning bake-fest: CBC #1 and #2

We awoke to a pretty grey & rainy (i.e. typical February) day in Squamish.  I decided it would be a good day to start the Cookbook Challenge (otherwise known as the CBC.)

I think I am a decent cook - I like to try new things & most of the time I seem to put together tasty meals.  As for baking, my track record is not as good.  I wouldn't say I'm terrible, but I have almost as many misses as I do hits.  I think it might be because baking involves precision - its actually just chemistry in the kitchen - whereas cooking allows a bit more latitude with the instructions.  I have never really been a great "details" person.  If I stick to chocolate cookies & muffins, I am golden (I get lots of practice with these as they are Derek's favourite!), but the idea here is to branch out.

My mom is a great cook & baker.  We grew up eating the most amazing cookies, pies, brownies and cakes.  I remember birthday cakes shaped and decorated like Big Bird & Holly Hobby.  We always had homemade cookies in our lunch-boxes, and I'm embarrassed to say that I went through a phase when I would trade these for Oreos and the other store-bought junk my friends had in their lunch-box.  I thought they were so lucky!  If I could go back to my childhood I would eat all my homemade goodies.  And I would take all my naps, thank you very much!

I want to be a better baker so I can also fill my family's lunch-boxes with goodies.  So for the Cookbook Challenge today, I tackled two new baked goods.

CBC #1: Double Chocolate Brownies from Bonnie Stern's Essentials of Home Cooking

OK, this is probably the most used book on my shelf.  There are food stains & splatters in every section from appetizers to desserts.  The recipes are delicious and easy to prepare; many of my favourite meals come from this trusty book.  It was not that easy to find a recipe in this book I haven't tried.  But I haven't made the brownies.  In fact, I have never made brownies, which is sort of surprising as I am married to a chocoholic.

I wish I could report success here, but I can't.  Bonnie specifically instructs me to be careful not to overcook my brownies; they should be crispy on the outside, moist in the middle.  I kept checking and checking and ended up leaving them in way longer than she recommended... but they still came out uncooked in the middle.  Finally I thought I had it right, so I removed them & let them cool.  I am sad to report, however, that they were closer to chocolate lava cake than brownies.

What to do with these half-baked brownies that I was planning to take down to a friend's house this afternoon?  Avert your eyes, Bonnie Stern... I took some inspiration from my university roommate, who used to make this thing she called "brownie in a bowl."  She basically threw together a batter concoction, nuked it for 5 mins and voila - a chocolately midnight snack to help with studying & maintenance of the freshman 15.   I decided to see what would happen if I finished these brownies in the microwave.  Well, I am happy to report, I did manage to salvage them.  They didn't look pretty, but they had the distinct advantage of being in the solid state.  And they tasted yummy!

I know some excellent bakers follow my blog on occasion, so my question is: what did I do wrong?  I am wondering if my use of a glass dish (vs metal) was a problem?

CBC #2: Orange Bran Muffins from "The New Basics Cookbook"

I don't know where I got this book from.  I think it was either gifted to me by my mom, or there is a small chance I stole it from her (sorry, mom!)  It is one of the Silver Palate books written by two women (Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins) with awesome 80s hairdos.  I almost never use it unless I need to discover how to make mashed potatoes, pie pastry or apple sauce.  In other words, I consult it for the basics.  

I love muffins, but the store & cafe bought ones are often disappointing.   I've never made bran muffins before,  so today I tried the Orange Bran Muffins.  

Not much to report here: the recipe was easy & the result was satisfactory.  The muffins were tasty and very moist, though a little greasier than I would like.  They are not as good as the delectable "Rhubarb Strudel Muffins" in Bonnie Sterns book from CBC #1!

Did anyone else get up to baking or cooking this weekend?  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the nice compliments! I like the cute baking cups.