Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Win some, lose some

The results of my first ever baking experiment are in! Determined that this would be different from my usual culinary misadventures, I prepared myself meticulously. I made a list of all the doubts I might have and found answers online before I actually got started rather than my usual strategy of making an instinctive (and usually wrong) choice while upto my elbows in eggs and flour.

So I found out what one 'cup' translates to in metric terms - for liquids and dry stuff separately - and wrote down all the conversions on a postit stuck to my kitchen work area. I figured out the difference between vanilla essence and extract. I doubled checked all mentioned oven temperatures and wrote them down in both Farenheit and Celsius.

I laid out all my equipment and supplies and ticked each item off against the recipe. I tested that the bowls I had were big enough for me to 'whisk gently' without spilling half the batter on the kitchen floor. The recipe (sent to me by a reader - thanks again, QA!), was copied out neatly onto another large postit also stuck to the work area. Moppet was sent down to play in the park with Nanny. I didn't want any distractions (or witnesses, in case of spectacular failure). I was ready to begin!

One. Two. Three. A deep breath, and I was off! Measuring, sifting, mixing, whisking, melting, and folding like a pro. In half an hour, the kitchen was smelling all warm and chocolatey, and I had a big bowl of brownie batter that looked just perfect.

I transferred it into my brand new baking tray, and encountered my first hitch. The tray was too small. I hadn't quite anticipated how much batter the recipe would produce. No matter, I'd just bake 2 batches. I poured in half the batter, and saved the rest for round 2.

Then the second hitch. For all my checks and online research, the one thing I had forgotten to check? The oven. It's an old oven that came pre-installed in the kitchen so there's no manual that explains the settings. I was able to figure out the timer and the temperature without a problem, but the mode setting had me stumped. They were just a series of icons, and I had no clue what they meant.

So I followed my instincts and picked one, and naturally it was the absolutely wrong choice. 10 minutes into baking, I realised by the thick burnt crust that had formed on top that it probably wasn't the right setting, so I foolishly followed my instincts and picked another setting.

Of course, that was even worse than the first setting, which I realised another 10 minutes into the game. By this time, my warm chocolatey kitchen was smelling like burnt coffee, and my eyes were beginning to smart. I tried a third setting - which may or may not have been the right one - it was too late to tell.

Finally, I turned everything off, burnt myself getting the tray out of oven (my equipment list hadn't mentioned oven mitts so of course I didn't buy any), dumped the half burned, half jellied batter straight into the dustbin, and informed Moppet's Papa (with great composure, given the circumstances) that my world had officially ended, that I was retiring from life, and that if he needed me he would find me in bed where I intended to stay for next week or so.

Ok, he said kindly, but since there was some batter left, why not give it another shot? He came along to help figure out the icons and after some debate we finally settled on one which turned out to be almost right. It wasn't perfect - the top still got a bit burned and I found another icon later that I realised wouldn't have had extra heat coming from the top - but it was much, much better than the previous 3 settings I had used. The burned portion was easily scraped off, and when the whole thing had cooled off, they actually turned out to be yummy. Not particularly good-looking, but really yummy.

Moppet's Papa casually asked me which brand of mix it was, and when I stopped stuffing my face long enough to inform him that it was no mix, that I had made it from scratch, he looked suitably impressed.

It seems there's hope for me after all!

36 comments:

Suki said...

Yay! That's a really good start, you know :D. My first cakes were BAD. Tasted like ... umm... batter minus the eggy scaly taste.

And I WANT that pumpkin soup recipe!

~nm said...

:D Looks can be deceptive as they say! So what matters is the taste. :D

Hey, share the recipe for me! If you can, mail it to me at doiwrite@gmail.com

Shyam said...

There's always hope :D For proof, look at me!

qa said...

Hey Moppets mom...I am so happy that you tried the recipe and enjoyed it.Isnt the taste just divine.When I have the first bite,I think it is as close to heaven I can get :)

Next time you know how much quantity to make and it will turn out better.Let me know if you want any more recipes.If I try some other cakes,I'll send you the recipe.

Aryan's Mom said...

hey..Good that your first baking expereince was a master piece in terms of its taste..
well done Moppets Mom...

Wunderyearz said...

Hey MM ,
Thats a great way to start.I baked my firt cake way back in my college days and probably God was really kind with me that day cause it turned out pretty edible.
Keep it going.....probably one day i would be asking you for some tips for baking ;-)

choxbox said...

Congrats - starting off is half the battle won!
This weekend the Guardian had a special supplement for baking recipes and guess who I thought of!

Parul said...

Could I have a bite?

Orchid said...

see i told ya!...you can always work on the presentation later, it's the taste that matters and some pictures would have been nice :)

Kodi's Mom said...

yipppeee!!! you are the lady of the cake :) now, go on, start a food blog.. :)

anja said...

funny lady you are=)

Shobana said...

Where is our bite of the brownie?

Sue said...

Aww Moppet's Mom... glad to hear they tasted great. You know, if brownies look a mess, just dust lots of cocoa powder on top. Or icing sugar or drinking chocolate. They hide a multitude of sins. And yes, that's experience talking.

:)

Moppet's Mom said...

Suki: I think it's the chocolate that saved me - there's so much chocolate in the recipe, no one - not even me - can make it taste bad!

NM: Have sent you the recipe. Just be warned, it makes a LOT of brownies! (I'm assuming you won't lose three-fourths of the batter to foolishness like I did)

Shyam: So they said, but I didn't quite believe until the Day of the Brownie happened! ;-)

QA: Yes, you were right. It's such a rich chocolate recipe, it really is hard to go wrong (although I did manage!)

Aryan's Mom: Umm...I wouldn't go so far to say masterpiece - but yes, since they're definitely a notch above plain 'edible', which is the rating I usually strive for, I guess they are a success.

Wunderyearz: Well, don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen! :-) But thanks for the encouragement.

Choxbox: Thanks! Yes - I'm certainly more enthu about trying out other stuff now.

Parul, Shobana: Sure - but you need to get here latest by tomorrow.

Orchid: Pictures! Yah! I knew I was forgetting something! Although now there are some 4 or 5 bedraggled almost-squares left, the pictures would be quite terrible. Next one - I promise.

Kodi's Mom: Whoa! Loooooong way to go before that happens!

Anja: Funny lady who now bakes, thank you very much! :-)

Sue: Sort of surgery or frosting, nothing's going to make these brownies look better :-)

karmickids said...

Gosh I bow to thee lady of the laddle.....you have inspired me to attempt a cake. I will be less ambitious and start from a ready mix though. Failing which, dial a cake is always available....

SUR NOTES said...

you have given me a happy start to another lousy day!

baking success stories fill me with a deep sense of well being since i am a disaster at it. my failings offend me terribly because i am a rather good cook in all other spheres!

Just Like That said...

MoppMom, you sifted, mixed, whisked, folded to perfection, its just the oven that let you down/ went wrong! :-D So you are indeed Lady of the Cake/Brownie!

Here's to many more trials and no errors (soon you'll you know your oven perfectly too, I guess, tho' its always handy to have someone take the blame ;-).

dipali said...

Hey, it sounds good. Plus the unpredictable dramatic element added by the oven-it was really a pot-boiler of a story!
Since I have no resident kids my cake baking skills have become extinct.
I succeeded in ruining a mix cake when I was expecting Sue and friends, saved the day with a Kookie Jar cake.
( The maid's kids were happy, though!)

choxbox said...

tagged!

Squiggles Mom said...

Why is everyone so nice?? Why doesn't anyone say....

'My brownies never burn, my brownies never brun' *in a sing song fashion*.

It would make it so much more interesting.

BTW considering everything else, you have major enthu!!! The problem I find with baking cakes/brownies is that I have to finish it within 24 hours. It's like I have to keep eating till it gets over. Which is another reason I have stopped baking besides sheer laziness!

WhatsInAName said...

I find consolation in you, MM :) I thought I was all alone in this big bad world of good bakers.

I just found the meaning of "take the cake".... you "take the cake" in baking the cake!

Aryan said...

Hi Moppet's Mom..
You are tagged..another tagging game...

Poppins said...

Me want the recipe too !!!

Rohini said...

You did much better than I would have... atleast it tasted good, which is more than I can say for most of the things I cook...

Fuzzylogic said...

Yay to the brownies!though it was off on a rocky start at the end it did turn out good. Now you can bake some more and invite all of us:):):)
By the way did it pass the approval of the little goonda of the house??

Moppet's Mom said...

Aww, thanks all! Sorry, I've been out of everything for the last few days - my parents have been visiting and I've been down with a terrible flu which made their visit a complete disaster, though it eased my recovery quite a bit to have my mom around.

noon said...

Hi MM!!! Visiting you after a long time! COngratulations on your first baking success! I hardly bake...so it would be exciting for me too if I baked something and it turned out to be tasty! I can imagine myself going through something like this. Now you ahve inspired me - may be I will try to bake something. But will remember to fig out the oven instructions before hand! Pictures please?!!
Love to Moppet. So did she like it?

mnamma said...

Hi MM,
Congratulations on your baking venture! I do some baking but it is mostly the krusteaz type readymade baking. Haven't tried anything from scratch yet. Hopefully by now you have recovered from the flu. Get well soon. We miss you :)

choxbox said...

howz you doing now? good this happened when your momis around!

Just a grail said...

I am totally impressed that you made them from scratch. They sound yummy!

The moppet, as usual, is adorable!

Timepass said...

Long time no post? Hope all is well

Fuzzylogic said...

Hey twin!Inlaws still taking away the blogging time?post quick!c

Fuzzylogic said...

Tagged!

Aryan said...

No Post for a long time???
Aryan's Mom

Orchid said...

whatsup girl??

Preethi said...

Hey wow.. I am so impressed.. I would have used a mix !!! :P And my cakes taste decent because of that!! But to do it from scratch.. wow you rock!!