Monday, May 21, 2012

Not Julia Child

I had never really baked anything before,  I've "baked" cakes and cookies and tarts and I've made tens of thousands of dog treats, but I can no long call these things I have "baked" because these aren't really baking.

 "Combine cake mix, two eggs, three tablespoons of oil, half a cup of water and bake at 350 for X time" isn't really the same as "... in a separate bowl combine X and Y and then in a different bowl add A to Y  and then warm F and add to C and D and E" finally, "leave to rise in warm room", for natch, an indeterminate amount of time, so you have to keep dancing attendance to it.

And lets talk about "warm", Who defines warm? as it turns out "warm" is defined as 110-114 degrees! My house won't be that "warm" until August and I certainly won't be taking advantage of it by  firing up my oven and busting out rolls to celebrate.After my dough refused to budge I went online to find out what I was doing wrong. It turned out  the room wasn't "warm" enough to do the job.  My toaster oven stepped in and allowed the yeast to "wake up". I turned it on low and put the bowl on top and waited.  Details, baking is full of pesky, annoying little details that if you get one wrong, you have to start over from the beginning and if you by some miracle don't get it wrong, you get to spend the entire day in a hot kitchen.

 I am never going to feel bad about buying rolls from the store again.

And there are all these things that  go into real baking, everything takes fifteen dry ingredients before you even start on the eleven wet - and don't think about substitutions either, you lazy thing! That's real eggs, damn it and you do have your own cooking thermometer don't you?  because that  whole milk needs to be heated to 107 and not one degree more or it burns - and flour? Did you know it matters? and that not all flour is the same? Its not, there are subtle, recipe destroying differences between them, those things written script on the front aren't just ways to make the brands look different from each other, they are actual different kinds of flour for different jobs. Yeah. Lots of things like that.

The ladies on TV do not make it look this hard. The lying cows and their special effects pastry! I've actually watched one of my cooking show ladies make her own puff pastry! Even The Two Fat ladies recognized that this is an unnecessary waste of time and can be purchased from your grocers freezer! I will look for easier ways to use my potatoes in the coming months. I did see an interesting recipe for cake using potatoes though...

I spent most of the day Sunday making rolls. A batch of rolls, a single variety. All day. How did our great, great, great Grandmothers do this kind of cooking every day and make three full meals on top of it? How do women do it today?

I have no staff. I think that is the biggest part of the problem. I have no staff to speak of and my kitchen is very tiny. If I had a staff and an Olympic style kitchen I could make bread and rolls and three kinds of cake every day and still watch someone else make a stunning standing roast.

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