Monday, November 16, 2009

Last week's not-so-successful baking

#1: Cinnamon sticky buns

Idle Husband is too busy shmoozing at work lately, so I haven't had to make him lunches. It kinda sucks for me because I loved making bread every two weeks. It was one of my favourite activities, plus it gave me a reason to bake and I didn't have to feel at all guilty about it. After we finally finished the last loaf, I figured I had better make some more, but instead of doing two loaves (as the recipe makes), I made cinnamon buns out of one instead. I heard that I could make cinnamon buns using a bread recipe so I decided to try it. They were a semi-success, though they weren't all that flavourful obviously due to using a bread recipe for the dough. I would have loved them so much more if there had been a hint of cinnamon or nutmeg or something in the dough itself. As they were, it felt like I was just eating dry bread with sugar poured over top. Uh...yum?

What else went wrong:
1. I didn't spread on enough filling, and I didn't put it all over the rolled out dough. I left an edge around it for whatever stupid reason. So when I rolled them up and cut them, the two end pieces were just rolled bread dough with no real flavour.
2. I decided to make a sticky topping, but I wasn't sure which pan I was going to use, so I just left the topping in the pot until I got to that step. When I figured out the pan size, it was super hard to get it out of the pot, so it didn't quite cover the bottom of the pan.
3. Once I sliced up my rolls, I figured they would fit really well into a round cake pan. I didn't exactly factor in the extra rising or the wee bit of rising they'd do in the oven. When I was baking them, some of the sticky topping oozed out as the buns oozed out, leaving a bunch of sticky ooze burning up in the bottom of my oven. Good thing I had the foresight to put one of those oven liners in the bottom after my last oven mishap.
4. I also decided to caulk around my kitchen sink while baking the cinnamon buns. What should have taken me exactly 5 minutes to do (plenty of time since I started right when the buns went in), took me the entire 30 minutes of baking time and when I discovered the buns oozing out and burning all over the place, I couldn't do anything because I was covered in caulking. Note: never multitask while baking with a task that's not food friendly.

#2 and 3: The Greek cookies

The first time we went to Greece, we did a lot of touristy stuff along with meeting and visiting with Idle Husband's parents. After staying at his parents, we decided to take a boat over to one of the Greek islands to stay for a couple nights. IH hadn't recalled visiting this island so it was a new experience for him, and well, for me it was a major experience since I'd never been on one of those boats, islands, or been on the sea before. Everything was totally new to us. Before we left his parents, his mother insisted on packing us some homemade cookies and treats for the trip. Big mistake. Here's how the boat ride went for us:

IH: Do you want to come and see the ocean?
me: (with a mouthful of cookies) mmfph?
IH: Do you wanna come outside and see the view?
me: Can't. Eating cookies.
IH: Maybe you want to get some great pictures, there's some islands coming up?
me: (brushing crumbs off my shirt) mmm maybe later? Like, after I finish these cookies?

In my defense, the cookies were friggin' fantastic, and even though I technically didn't have any competition for them since IH had them all his life and said they weren't really his favourites, I felt like I had to eat them immediately. Doing anything on that ship meant leaving them at our seat, and I was pretty damn sure that someone would take them. There were approximately five people in our seating area and I just know they all had their greedy little eyes on them. In fact, all the greek conversations that were going on around me were plots about how they were going to get the cookies away from me, and I really couldn't take that chance just for some stupid pictures of the sea.

Anyway, when we got back to Canada, I fondly remembered the cookies and not so much the sea or the trip to the islands, and we still laugh about that moment, but really what I wanted to have was the cookies again. IH discussed it with his mom, and she sent me two different cookie recipes. It took me a while to realize they were two different recipes since they both had the same title (I can compare letters, ya know). IH explained to me that they're both different, they're just both called cookies. That's it. Just cookies. I guess it's like the whole melon scenario there. They call all melons, melon. And we got into some heated debates over it.

me: but what if your mom sends you to the store to get a melon? How do you know which one to get?
IH: I just know.
me: but there's so many kinds. Like, if I wanted you to get me a melon, I'd be like, get me a honeydew or a cantalope...
IH: oh. Well, they'll say a ripe melon or unripe melon.
me: ripe melon?! Of course you'd want a ripe melon! Duh! How's that supposed to help?
IH: honeydews are unripe melons and cantalopes are ripe melons.
me: WHAT?! Honeydews don't ripen into cantalopes! This is ridiculous logic!

And that's why I've just given them my own names so I can distinguish them easily. The first time I made them, I screwed them both royally. The orange cookies (named from the cup of orange juice in them) called for baking soda and baking powder. I accidentally put in baking soda and baking soda. They ended up having a really strong metallic baking soda taste, but were still edible, just not that good. They definitely weren't the cookies from the trip, but they were ok. The egg cookies (named because there's five eggs in them) seemed ok except when I converted the flour amount to cups, I found it called for -- wait for it -- 7 1/2 cups of flour! That can't be right, I thought, but I attempted it anyway. After about 5 cups of flour, the motor on my mix master was just about ready to explode so I stopped. They sort of had the taste of the boat cookies, but were really dry and tough (duh).

I finally worked up the courage to attempt these two again last week. The orange cookies proved more successful than the first try. This time I decided to press them down a bit with a cup dipped in sugar. That was a good idea. The one problem I have is the full cup of oil. I might try using applesauce instead since I have it just sitting frozen in my freezer anyway and maybe 1/4 cup, if any, of oil. I loved the taste, but I felt guilty-er than I should have.

The egg cookies turned out a little better, though shockingly I don't think I put in enough flour this time. I decided to add it until I could drop them out by the spoonful, but I realized I should have added in more about halfway through dropping them. They were pretty sticky. The result was kind of a flavourless, spongy, dry, cake-like texture. What's worse is they tasted even less like the boat cookies than they did when I packed 5 cups of flour into them. I don't know what to do to save them. It would be nice to have some flavour like nutmeg in them, and I suppose more flour. Other than that, I'm at a loss. I think the most reasonable idea is to make them with IH's mother when we go to Greece for Christmas. I don't know what else to do plus that would make for some excellent awkward bonding time. And lord knows I don't get enough awkward moments in my life as it is.

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