Tuesday, May 31, 2011
It's ridiculous how blase I've become about baking. Over the past 3-4 years, I went from someone who, while knowing the general steps of baking, was tentative in them to someone who just whips up cakes and cookies and pots de creme at the drop of a hat. Crazy, especially when you realize that for many of my first blog posts, I had moral support in the kitchen. Friends who I'd drag over to my teeny tiny Wisconsin apartment so that if something went wrong, I had help to fix it. Ignore the fact that most of them weren't actually adept enough in the kitchen to truly help. Seriously, one was straight out of the generation of canned soup + meat + noodles = dinner. Cheese counted for bonus points. How in the world was she supposed to help me if I burnt caramel? Nonetheless, this particular friend stood by me and chatted while I put together a Black and White Chocolate Cake - my very first Tuesday with Dorie dessert. She was also around (and actually helped!) when I made baked doughnuts for the first time.
But now? Well, to illustrate the point, I'll have to explain my thought process about this week's pick, caramel pots de creme. First, I actually know what pots de creme are. I also knew that we were flying to Nebraska mid-day last Friday, returning home around midnight last night. So I need to make these, oh, sometime very very soon. Especially given the fact that I had lost quite a bit of baking time thanks to the trip to Sacramento. So Thursday night, right after dinner, I pulled out the book. Two eggs. Five egg yolks. Sugar, milk, cream. Combine that with my distinct meh-ness about creamy desserts, and you have a solution that I wouldn't have tried in a million years just three years ago. I one-sixthed the dessert. Used one yolk, caramelized a mere tablespoon of sugar, and generally just winged it. Expecting a quicker-than-instructed bake time (my oven runs hot), I pulled them out at 20 minutes and let them rest for ten. Jiggly. Back in the oven they went, now for another 10 minutes. Another ten minute rest, and we were good to go. 45 minutes from start to finish, and I had a dessert that would have given me serious anxiety not too long ago. Crazy, right?
It makes me wonder about all those people who say they can't cook, or bake, or do anything in the kitchen other than open a box of mac & cheese or a can of soup. What if they just made one new thing, every week? If things were chosen that were easy or had good instructions, and ingredients that were actually familiar - would people be a bit less scared of the kitchen, and of cooking? I'd like to think so.
Last Week: Oatmeal Nutmeg Scones
Next Week: Blueberry Brown Sugar Plain Cake (oh, be still my heart... we're already getting local berries here!)