Baking on the Backburner

17 10 2010

The thing about pavlovas is that they’re one of my favorite desserts of all time.  Like pho, I could happily eat pavlova every day and not get sick of it.  But baking pavlova after pavlova does not make for a good baking blog.

That is partially why this blog has taken a bit of a back seat to other concerns.  While I am still baking, I can’t seem to get over my fixation with pavlovas.  All I want is big pavlovas, little pavlovas, pavlovas with mountains of cream and fruit.  A snowman made of pavlova!  A pavlova shaped to look like Han Solo frozen in carbonite (which is very hard to do, I’ve discovered).

So sorry to my readers (all 1 of you).  I might go on to write about other things that are not baking, or resume writing after I’ve gotten over my pavmania, but for now this it.


Lost Recipes

28 06 2010

Exams have kept me busy.  As such, there has not been much baking.

Also, I lost one of my recipe books.  Which makes me sad.  ‘Twas a good book.  I shall have to continue searching for it.  Had one of my favorite cakes in there.

Exams are over now.  Usually, during exam period, I lock myself in my room and don’t come out except for meals.  It’s a very effective studying method – I managed to condense my entire subject (Commercial Law) into about 3 books, 50 pages each.  Which, for me, constitutes ‘concise notes’.

I am now listening to a bunch of old records my mum kept from when she was little.  I recently picked up a record player/cassette player/radio (for free!) and now I can listen to all that old vinyl.  She has ‘The Sound of Silence’ on vinyl, which I was really stoked about, ’cause it’s one of my favorite songs.  We have two vinyl players now – I picked one up for J a while back – so this one is for communal use.  I’m going to pop by the Salvation Army or something soon, and have a look around for some more good vinyl.  J has a bunch of Fueled by Ramen pressed records that we’re listening to as well.  Fueled by Ramen press horrifically bad vinyl.  Not that the bands are bad – the bands are excellent.  The quality of the vinyl is what sucks.  Warps as the drop of a hat, mislabeled, the list goes on.

Was thinking of listening to vinyl and baking a cake today, only as previously mentioned, I lost my recipe book.  I could bake another cake, but I wanted that cake.

Some time during the break I’m going to try to curl my hair 50’s style.  Last time I tried, it got all messy and tangled – a great big failure.  I’d make a great 50’s housewife.

Failed Baking

22 05 2010

The other day I took out three eggs to bake some nice cupcakes to snack on whilst studying.  I’m doing a lot of that nowadays – studying.  I have a Commercial Law assessment to do that I maintain is impossible, as nobody could cram that much information into 1 200 words without inventing a new language.  Add to that my creative works for Communications, and I’m up in my room 24/7, on my laptop, working.

Anyway, I thought ‘Right, I’ll take out these eggs, let them heat up to room temperature (’cause you get the best results if your ingredients are room temperature), then take a break later on and bake me some study snacks!’.  Unfortunately, I did not put a note on the eggs.  I came downstairs several hours later to find my dad had put them back in the fridge.

‘Not to worry,’ I thought, ‘I can bake tomorrow!’  J even took eggs out for me.

Yeah, didn’t happen.  I’m too freaked about this assessment to bake.

Been thinking of maybe transferring this blog to Tumblr.  I typically don’t have anything interesting to say pertaining to baking (honestly, who found my egg adventure interesting?) and I know people are mostly only interested in the pictures of the finished goods.  Maybe I shall.  After exams.

Carrot Cake and Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes

12 05 2010

I have been rather tired.

I get tired of saying that – every semester, I get tired.  I always start thinking that I’ll stay on top of my work then have a ton of time for rest, but it never works out that way?  Why?  Because I’m a notorious perfectionist.  Even after I finish an assignment, I will tweak and edit it until the very last minute, and whenever I get my results back, no matter what they are, I always think to myself ‘I could have done better…’.  Even if I get 100%, I always feel like I could have put more in.

Anyway, as a result, I haven’t been baking much.  Well, that’s partially why.  I did bake another pavlova, which I didn’t feel was noteworthy enough to record, as I seem to be baking many pavlovas now that I’ve figured out how.  The real reason that I haven’t baked so much these past few weeks is that my mum temporarily took over baking in our house, having developed a sudden and inexplicable craving for carrot cake.  Just at the kitchen table at dinner, all of a sudden she goes ‘I want some carrot cake’.  She then spends the next day hunting down a recipie.  Then buys many, many carrots.  And then converts them all into cake form.

She made at the very least four within one week.

It was slightly worrying, actually.  I wasn’t sure it would stop.  But as quickly as carrot cake fever fell upon her, it left, leaving us all reeling in its wake.

I had had enough of baked goods for a bit after that, but then I spotted this wonderful Women’s Weekly recipe book for cupcakes and cookies.  I love Women’s Weekly – they have the best recipes.  So I snatched it up for $5, and tried the Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes.  Because Chocolate Peppermint is only one of the greatest tastes bestowed upon mankind.

It was glorious.

Gingerbread Men

12 04 2010

Yes, yes, I am aware that I have been a very bad girl.  Skipped one whole week of posting.  But in my defense, I’ve been stupidly busy.  Finally handed in a case note I was writing for law, which took me forever and more than a little freaking out.  Freaking out is my default state during semester.  I also got together all my stuff for my creative non-fiction piece, which is brilliant, and am now working on a third assignment, which could be going better.  This week things have slowed down a little – this week I only have a performance of Macbeth to attend, a prize for a writing competition to receive, S’s graduation ceremony, my own plays to attend, I have to hand in another assignment, and if I can fit it in there’s a Red Cross movie night.

Nevertheless, on Saturday S, J and I baked and decorated gingerbread men to bring to church on Sunday.  In truth, S did the baking – I was busy fretting over my assignment (movie scripts are not easy to write).  She produced two variations – one soft and one hard, and we unanimously decided the soft ones were the way to go.  They were cut into the shapes of both men and women and decorated with white lemon icing.  We spent over an hour with the ends of chopsticks dipped in the icing, drawing little faces and designs on them.  I made several superheroes, the best of which was Batman – I even managed to give his little bat logo ears, despite the icing being so runny.  Unfortunately, my Wolverine turned out looking more like a dominatrix, and had to be removed from the church pile.

Blueberry Cake

29 03 2010

Just a quick post for now (I’ll edit it later):

There was so much baked tasty in the house this week that baking myself seemed excessive.

First, S baked a Cherry Cake, which, despite my general distain for glace cherries, was moist and sweet.  It is probably one of the only things in which glace cherries seem to work.  A few days later, I baked a second Marshmallow Pavlova, and despite some difficulties with tapioca flour clumps it turned out magnificent.  Then J baked some Chocolate Chip Cookies which looked a bit plain at first, as she had cut down on the chocolate, but they tasted good and were wonderfully soft and chewy, and with a few extra chocolate chips on the top they looked fine.  And then yesterday S baked a Blueberry Cake, complete with fresh blueberries on top.  It is quite possibly one of my very favorite cakes.  I’ll upload some photos later.

Marshmallow Pavlova

20 03 2010

I’ve been dreaming about pavlova.

For the past week, it had been the only thing on my mind.  I’d memorised the recipe’s page number (77).  I’d planned and plotted.  I told everyone and anyone who would listen that I was going to make a pavlova, no matter how disinterested they seemed.  I apologise profusely for this.  But, like a woman in love, I was obsessed.

And yesterday, I did it.

It was slightly ironic that I had a dentist’s appointment on that day as well – as he was fixing my teeth, I informed the doctor exactly how I planned to destroy them with sugar and cream later that day.  Right after the dentist, I went straight to Franklins and bought myself cream and canned fruit salad in slight disbelief that it should be so easy to accumulate all the necessary ingredients for the dessert of my dreams.

The actual making of the pavlova, however, took hours.  First the beating of the eggs and gradual addition of sugar, which seems to take forever to dissolve.  I used a plastic straw as a dropper to measure the white vinegar, and substituted tapioca flour for cornflour.  I stood by the mixing bowl, chin in palm, watching the mixture like a hawk.  A 1 1/4 hour baking time, and then you have to leave it to cool slowly.  Very slowly.  By the time it was ready, it was about 10:00 at night.  S and J sat around, wailing loudly at the promised pavlova’s lack of appearance.  No, they did not want to wait until tomorrow, they wanted it now!

It was beautiful, and I really mean that.  I was reluctant to cut into it.  Neat furrows up the side, a pile of whipped cream and fruit on the top.  J said it was good enough to serve to guests – “The Creepy Baker strikes again!”  I was afraid it would collapse once I tried to slice it up, it looked so delicate, but it retained it’s shape spectacularly, being crisp on the outside and soft and marshmallow-like on the inside.

It tasted as good as a pavolva bought from a store.  S, who had recently had one at an office party, commented that the store bought one was more sweet, which I took as a compliment, as I found mine already sweet enough.  Any more sweet, and it might have been too sweet.

My only concern is that it seemed rather small – at 18cm in diameter, and so light, it can be finished in the blink of an eye.  But any bigger, and I fear it would spill out of the mixing bowl or scrape the ceiling of the oven.

I’m a little sad that it’s all gone now.  But S is baking a Cherry Cake some time in the next few days, so I should get over it soon.  And I think I might bake another one.