Monday, December 15, 2008

There's No Crying in Baking

Sunday we had all of the family over for Emma's birthday. I thought I was prepared. Saturday I made up three pans of funeral potatoes to cook for Sunday. I bough a ham and had it sliced. I made a Jell-O with raspberries. I should have made the birthday cake too, but it was the ward party Saturday night and I ran out of time. (Guess what we had? Funeral potatoes, ham, and Jell-O.)
So I had most of Sunday afternoon to make rolls, a birthday cake, some backup brownies (yeah , we have a big family), put together a green salad and maybe a veggie platter.
Oh how I wish I had pictures to describe the chaos that ensued. I think a timeline will work best:

12:15-- We get home from church, everyone is cold and starving and demanding lunch. Ed has a meeting in 30 minutes so I'd better get chopping. Swiping some ham from the dinner, I threw together a brunch (or lunchfast as Emma called it) of ham, scrambled eggs, toast, leftover cinnamon rolls, and orange juice. Uh, you're welcome guys.
12:45-- Ed's gone. Ed usually does the dishes. I do dishes fast while trying to decide what cake I'm going to make.
1:00-- I make the roll dough. I scald the milk and nearly burn it (because, you know, I'm doing the darn dishes). The milk is taking forever to cool. Put milk mixture in garage to cool and nearly spill it on the dog food.
1:30-- Decide on a lovely yellow butter cake that uses the reverse creaming method. How intriguing! Prepare my mise en place.
1:45--Milk is cool. Finish preparing the roll dough, knead, and dump in an oiled container to rise.
2:00-- I'm running late! Wash bowl dough was kneaded in and start preparing cake batter. Forget to preheat oven. Realize that reverse creaming takes a long time.
2:15-- While reverse creaming, visiting teachers come over unannounced. Bring me a nice poinsettia and we chit chat. I'm wearing paint splattered sweats and covered in flour. Sensing my anxiety, visiting teachers leave.
2:30-- Finish cake batter. Hmmm, it calls for 8" rounds. I have a lot of batter. Will it fit? Yes it will! Barely. Oh, crap. Preheat oven. Should I use 9" rounds? Nah. I like tall cakes!
2:40-- Oven is preheated. Cake batter is divided evenly, smoothed, and comes dangerously close to the top of the pan. The picture in the cookbook shows a fine crumb and tight texture, like a pound cake. Perhaps it won't rise much. Put in the cake.
2:50-- Batter is rising and flowing over to the edge of the pan. Will the surface tension hold it together? Please?
2:52-- Cake batter is dripping over the edges. Dangit! What should I do? Wait. Maybe it will stop. It won't. Burn finger while spooning some of the batter out of the pans onto a plate.
2:54-- Cake batter is still dripping. Put a pan underneath to catch the drippings. Taste the batter on the plate. Not bad!
2:55-- Oven is taking on a nice smoky smell. I wonder if the cookbook says something about using tall cake pans! No, but clearly they do. Wish you would have bought those 8"x3" cake pans at Gygi's.
3:00-- Cake batter is steadily flowing out of the pans, but only out of one side, creating a divet around the rising cake, a beautiful volcanic valley of golden batter. Start thinking about making some brownies. You're definitely going to need a backup.
3:10-- Wash mixer bowl and start making texas sheet cake brownies. A crowd pleaser! Put flour and sugar in mixing bowl.
3:15-- Cakes are finally finished and boy are they ugly. In a brief flash of maturity, Emma pats me on the back and says "It's okay mom."
3:20-- What's that burning smell? Is it still the oven? Ah! the cocoa/water/butter mixture on the stove is bubbling away at a dangerous pace. Remove from heat and dump in flour sugar mixture. Mix in everything else. While pouring batter in pan, give it a taste. Hmm, it doesn't taste very sweet. Did I put in both cups of sugar? I can't remember!
3:25-- Pace around kitchen and finally decide to add another cup of sugar to the brownie batter. Scrape batter from pan into bowl, add sugar, scrape back into pan, and place into still smoky oven.
3:30-- Wash saucepan. Start making icing for brownies. Melt butter, cocoa, and milk in pan. Get distracted trying to get birthday cakes out of the pan. Frosting mixture scorches on the bottom but I'm mad and add the powdered sugar anyway. I think it tastes a little burned. Ed things it tastes fine, albiet with a pleasant smoky finish.
3:40-- Still with the burning smell? What's wrong? Look in oven and see brownie batter bubbling over the edge of the pan. Crap!
3:45-- While looking for a pan large enough to catch the falling batter, note that the brownie batter is now overflowing the pan in thin, beautiful sheets of chocolate. Double crap! Kitchen is dangerously smoking. Everyone in family opening windows. I try not to cry. There's no crying in baking!
3:47-- Flames erupt on the bottom of the oven in the shape of a sheet pan rectangle. Pull brownies from oven, covering my oven mitts in batter. Throw on baking soda to stop the fire. Take a deep breath and remind yourself you still have 3 potato casseroles, a ham, and 4 pans of rolls to bake.
3:50-- The rolls! Turn and see the dough overflowing the container. Punch down dough with more force than necessary, turn it, and tell it gently to wait a few minutes.
3:50 - 4:30-- Turn off oven, let it cool down, pull out racks, wash and dry them, scrape off burned batter from the bottom of oven. Call mom and ask her to make brownies. Give silent prayer thanking God for moms.
4:30-- Shape rolls and try to clean up the disastrous kitchen.
4:30-- Crank oven up and cram it with ham and funeral potatoes. Turn on the convection fan, baby!
4:40-- Make dip for vegetable tray. Decide not to make homemade salad dressing. Ask Ed to whip the cream for the Jell-O.
4:45-- Make chocolate buttercream frosting for cake.
4:50-- Try and make something from the cake-tastrophe. Slice tops of cake to make even with divet. Save tops. Patch together cake so it's roughly even. Even use some of the pieces that had falling into the other pan. Frost cake. Hey, this isn't too bad!
5:00-- Decorate cake with Junior mints and little peppermint patties that have white frosting snowflakes on them. Be glad you didn't cry over the cake - it turned out okay.
5:15-- Check on potatoes and ham. Almost there. Thank you convection! Swap everything out for a pan of rolls.
5:20-- Realize you're still in your sweats and the doorbell just rang. Ah! Change clothes, dash downstairs and get out salad stuff.
5:30-- Get nice sister-in-law to help you finish salad. Put in more rolls.
5:40-- Almost everyone's here. I made it!

Remember: any tears in the kitchen should be tears of joy. I will make that dang yellow butter cake again, with different pans, and I know it'll be great.


Fab Fisher Family said...

I love the blog Cathy! Your baking adventures sounds like fun!

amanda said...

dang... sorry i missed it. YOU are so talented even with the spilling and burning. i bet everything tasted great!

I'm sad I couldn't come. Jonathan and I were sick. both of us. go figure.....

Missy and Jake said...

This is an amazing post! I'm glad you have bad cooking days too! This very second my house smells of burnt chocolate.MMMM good thing the husband is not here.

Holly Strong said...

love to see that you have days like this too. AND I'm sure everyone loved everything. Aren't you thrilled you thought ahead and got some of it done. I'm sure I'll have a day like this in about...hmm, two sundays from now when we bless Bennett. LOL Hmmmm, I'm seriosly rethinking the maybe?!?!?

Carrie said...

ha ha ha! Oh man, I've got tears from laughing! I even knew about your crappy day but reading it in this post was priceless. It's good to have bad days now and then in the kitchen. It keeps us humble. I'm sure everything was amazingly good, because you are, after all, the Iron Homemaker!

Ed said...

You didn't even mention that Jane got into the bread dough as the rolls were sitting in the tray on the chair, before you were able to put them in the oven.

Electrawoman said...

all I can say is WOW that made me stressed just reading it you are definetly a supermom