Monday, November 01, 2010

Baking Woes

I think I'll place the blame on the busy week. Just one of those weeks, getting ready for the girls' Fall/Halloween celebrations at school, coordinating the volunteers for Ella's class, getting ready for Pumpkin Math at Ella's school - just a lot of things all in a few days.

I had volunteered to bring in a pumpkin treat for the class to enjoy after Pumpkin math. Pumpkin math was this fun activity that Ella's teacher organized, where the worked with estimating, measuring counting and counting using a pumpkin.


I decided I would make my pumpkin cookies. They are super easy and super yummy. Also they are topped off with brown butter icing which is my favorite for anything pumpkin.

I figured I would double the batch since we had our church group meeting Thursday night and I could bring them to that as well. Only one problem. The recipe called for shortening and I didn't have enough for two batches. So I used half butter, half shortening.

At this point my problem began. I'm not sure if it was just using the butter or if my butter was too soft and getting melty, but the cookies flattened out more than usual and were very....soft/mushy/fragile/falling apart. I made probably six plus dozen cookies and I tried all sorts of tactics, cooking them longer, letting them cool longer on the pan, refrigerating the dough beforehand. Nothing seemed to really work too much, but the refrigerating did help a little. (leading me to think that it was the butter being too soft and not the use of it that was the main problem. any thoughts)

Of course as the cookies were basically falling apart in my hand, I ate much more than my fair share, because of course I can't give the kids broken cookies and can't just throw them away either!

Sidenote: There is something about pumpkin that leads to me always overindulging. With brownies or chocolate chip cookies I usually have more control, but give me a pumpkin cookie or even an oatmeal cookie and I'll just go to town. Is it that, despite all the butter and sugar that I added with my own hand, the addition of a "healthy" ingredient" results in me feeling that it's not as bad for me as brownie? Can anyone relate to this?

So I ate tons of broken cookies all day and then that night right before I put the kids to bed I made the brown butter frosting. This involves melting butter, adding brown sugar and milk and cooking it until it's boiling. Then you remove from the heat and add powdered sugar and vanilla, stir until combined and then drizzle or spread on your dessert of choice.

Easy cheesy.

So with the kids watching I did all of the above. Except instead of being a consistency that could be drizzled or spread, it got super thick and dough like. I thought perhaps I read the recipe wrong and added more milk, hoping to thin it out. And then more milk. And then it became apparent that whatever I had done wrong was irreversible so I had to step back and evaluate.

I tasted the icing. It didn't taste right. (Catherine liked it and actually had a cookie with it on top in a big lump) It didn't take me too long to realize that I had added flour instead of powdered sugar! Awesome! So I dumped it all in the trash and started over with much better results.

I packed the cookies up into a container and set them aside for the next day.

But of course that would have been too easy. When I opened the container whatever was wrong with the cookies from the beginning and just gotten worse and many of them were breaking, sticking to each other (kind of funny, not the icing, only the cookie part was sticky) - basically a big mess that I didn't feel would be great to share with a group of first graders.

So.....I decided to risk attempting to bake again, this time, pumpkin bread from my favorite food blog Mel's Kitchen Cafe. Even though I really really did not want to bake again, and the thought of having more pumpkin temptation was almost unbearable, I'm glad I did it because the bread turned out awesome!

Thanks to Mel I avoided adding yet one more baking woe to my list. Anyone else have issues when making non yeast bread when the middle seems to stay gooy and the sides get overcooked? It happens to me all the time. In this recipe Mel said that if I was using a 9x5 pan it would make 2 loaves and an 8x4 pan it would be three loaves. I don't think I ever realized that that extra inch on either side would make that much of a difference, because it turns out I do have 8x4 loaf pans. All those times I was getting gooey undercooked bread - perhaps I was cramming three loaves worth of batter into two pans!

So yeah, all of this to say, go check out Mel's Kitchen Cafe and make her pumpkin bread. You can't go wrong with it!

Stay tuned for some more yummy fall recipes. I have some that are so easy and simple that I can't not share them with you!


Courtney said...

I feel like this is how all my cooking adventures go.....
I'm sure they were delicious- I mean, how bad can cookies be? It's always better than no cookies at all!

Megan said...

even if you mess up something, whatever you make always tastes amazing! :) i have to check out that site for more recipes... you always pass on great ones! :)
- this is renee, but i'm logged in as you since i'm using your computer :)

Crafty P said...

I can relate to this on many levels... I've had many a recipe go terribly wrong and had to try and remedy the situation. It seems that when I'm pinched for time is when all hell breaks loose in the kitchen and something happens to my tried and true recipes. I learned the hard way a few weeks ago that doubling is not always the most effective and efficient way to tackle a recipe. Some recipes are just best made one batch at a time!

ps I don't think it matters whether they're oatmeal or pumpkin or "light"... if it's a cookie, I'm all over that. I tend to ration pretty well though. I just pop things in the freezer and then I can't get to them as fast. SPeaking of cookies in the freezer... I have some gingersnaps that are starting to feel neglected!

Happy said...

If I'm baking for a purpose other than my own selfish taste buds...something typically goes wrong!

And I'm not a good improviser. I get upset. Things get throw away.

Those cookies sound really yummy and I do hope you share the recipe soon!

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