Sunday, June 27, 2010

Experiments at conquering my nemeses

Due to some messy, unexpected contract issues at work, I'll be taking an unforeseen week and a half off work from Wednesday. Rather than sit around the apartment watching movies all day, I figure I can use the time for something more productive - attempting to conquer those parts of baking that either scare the living crap out of me, or that I just plain suck at. Whether or not I'll be successful remains to be seen. But at this point in time, I have three experiments on the cards. I may not get through them all (I may explode from trying to eat the products of my experiments!), but I'll do my best.

The three experiments are as follows:

1. Pie. It's not so much the pie that presents the issue as the pastry. I'm fairly certain I made pastry from scratch without any problems in my high school Home Ec classes. But I haven't tried it since. And so pastry falls into the category of things that scare the living crap out of me. I don't think it helps that I don't usually have the desire to spend the better part of a whole day standing around rolling out dough...

2. Yeast-involving baking. I've made bread in the past, and it turned out vaguely okay. Although from memory, the bread ended up more like a sourdough loaf than like a standard loaf of bread. Due to not owning a loaf pan, I'm thinking I'll start with either pizza dough or some form of bread rolls. So I think this one falls into both categories - I didn't do particularly well last time I made yeast-based products, and it scares the crap out of me. The latter is, of course, the result of having seen containers of spent yeast at the end of the brewing process *gags repeatedly*

3. Decorating. Unless it just involves frosting, decorating is my week spot when it comes to cakes. With cupcakes, it's easy enough to pretty them up with chocolate chips or hundreds and thousands or grated chocolate. But on a larger cake? Those things just tend to look cheesy and amateurish. Not to mention lazy! So I'm thinking I might try and persuade my mum (who'll be visiting while I'm taking my unexpected time off) to part with her piping bag (hopefully not too hard a challenge - I have no memory of her ever using it!), and try out some piping as well as decorating with chocolate curls/drizzles/ganache/whatever.

So watch this space - we'll see how far I get, and how many of these turn out to be complete disasters!!!

K :) xx

PS. I plan on doing my fair share of sitting around watching movies too. It's just far less interesting! ;)



    Can't help you with icing hints and tips yet - royal icing is my next endeavour that I have not yet had the courage to embark upon. I have the piping bag and nozzles, I have a flower nail, but I haven't actually gotten around to playing yet. But I'm feeling pretty invincible on account of last weekend's massive decorating success, so I might give it a whirl soon!

    Re. pastry, I seem to recall mum mentioning that the less you handle it and the colder it is the better. And something about the "shorter" (I'm taking that to mean more butter/shortening but it may be the reverse) it is the crispier it is. But don't quote me on that. I could have that completely backwards. The only pastry I made recently was an apple pie in the AWW's... okay I don't remember which book but I reckon the recipe features in 3/4 of their books, and they proclaimed it to be a very cakey, non-traditional piecrust, so no help there either, sorry!

    ~* Ness (unable to sign into Google account at work)

  2. You do need to keep the dough cold and try not to work it too much. But I think that 'short' refers to the flaky/crumbliness, so you actually need to use the bare minimum butter to hold it together.

    Good luck with the decorating - my ideas never seem to translate but I hope yours goes well!


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