Monday, October 28, 2013

Baking Bad

Larry often says that cooking is interpretive and experimental, but baking is like chemistry – you have to have the ingredients just right, or it doesn’t work out.

I’ve never been much of a cook. I have a few culinary tricks up my sleeve, but for the most part my food preparation is utilitarian in nature. If I were a single woman, I’d probably live on bologna sandwiches and Captain Crunch. Fortunately for me, Larry enjoys cooking and usually takes the helm in the kitchen.

Once in a while, though, I get an urge to bake, especially in the fall. I found a recipe for Impossible Pumpkin Cookies that, despite their name, seemed pretty easy. After starting to mix the ingredients, however, I realized I had purchased a can of sweetened milk and not condensed milk. There was no conversion or swapping mentioned in my standby Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. So I called my friend and baking guru, Dianne Johnstone.
Dianne said no, you really can’t use one in place of the other, and there wasn’t any real workaround. She asked what I was making and I said Impossible Pumpkin Cookies, the impossible part apparently being the cook’s ability to pick up the right ingredients from the store.
In the end, the cookies proved impossible for me, as they had a weird timeframe of cooking 10 minutes, then sitting out for 10 minutes, then going in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Behind the eight ball now because of having to run to the store again and having to be somewhere shortly, I fudged the time sitting to 5 minutes and time in the fridge to half a day. Let’s just say the chickens were the beneficiaries of that particular attempt.

This weekend I had a herd of bananas on my counter that were growing blacker by the day, slowly inching their way towards the compost pail. I decided to wash the dead bugs out of my bread pans and try some banana bread. I utilized the basics of a new recipe in my cookbook with some of my favorite components from a banana muffin recipe.
But when I started putting all the dry ingredients in the bowl I realized I was looking at the wrong recipe in the cookbook (I have GOT to get new glasses), so I pulled out a pinch of what looked like the baking powder here and some of what looked like the baking soda there. Instead of one monster loaf, I split it between two pans and hoped for the best. I warned Larry this was a compilation recipe, there were no guarantees.
To my surprise, they came out great – no small feat for me - cooked through perfectly, moist and delicious, as good banana bread should be. Welcome Fall! Sometimes mad science in the kitchen wields wonderfully tasty results.

1 comment:

  1. Our dogs have been the beneficiaries of my baking sometimes. And sometimes it's so bad they won't eat it. The banana bread looks good!