I have plans to go to the Cardinals game tonight, but if this icky rain and severe weather keeps up, that might change. I am being hopeful that we WILL be enjoying a Cardinal win over the Reds tonight, and also assuming that we probably won’t be getting any frozen custard or ice cream tonight. Plus, I have a really busy weekend with church + family, so even if I did get some yummy goodness tonight, there would be no time for me to write about it. Instead, you’re getting something a little different.
Everything I learned about baking I learned from Alton Brown. I had the opportunity to meet him a few years ago when he was in St. Louis promoting his Feasting on Asphalt book. He is just as funny and down to earth in person as he is on his shows. I think the reason I love him so much is that he explains the science behind cooking and baking.
I’m a person who likes to know exactly what they are doing. I love following directions but I also want to know why I am doing what I am doing. So, with Alton, he gives the science behind why certain things work in baking/cooking, and why they don’t.
Lately, my pregnancy brain has been kicking in (which I’m pretty sure could be diagnosed as some sort of disease) and I am forgetting things I wouldn’t normally forget. Like, my Garmin watch. Sure, it’s really old and the GPS on it isn’t great, but it works and I like it. I had it with me after my run last Saturday, remember putting it with all my stuff to put away, and now it is no where to be found. I’m just hoping I didn’t throw it away.
What does this have to do with baking, you ask? I have had 2 epic fails with baking in the past 2 weeks. Guaranteed, my fails still turned out edible, but not nearly the quality I would have liked them to be.
Epic Fail #1: A few Saturdays ago, I really want to make Alton Brown’s oatmeal raisin cookies. I had everything I needed to make them and plenty of time on my hands. My Girls on the Run troop was sending cookies overseas to the troops, and I wanted to do my part. It was an extraordinarily hot day for April and I was refusing to turn on our AC. I had every single window in the house open, but it was still a balmy 85 degrees in the house. I took my butter out to let it soften and prepped the rest of my ingredients. When I got back to my butter, it was a little softer than the recommended room temperature. I went ahead and made everything according to plan, but when I went to take my cookies out of the oven, I had large FLAT hockey pucks. Thank you, Alton Brown, for teaching me that butter plays a roll in how fluffy or crisp my cookies will turn out. (See his episode “Three Chips for Sister Marsha” to learn more about the science of butter in cookies.)
Epic Fail #2: This doesn’t really have anything to do with what Alton Brown has taught me, but it was still stupid of me. A couple days ago, I was on a mission to make some banana bread sans butter (since I had used all of it in my Epic Fail Cookies) with some overripe bananas I had. I had 6 bananas on hand, so I decided to double the recipe and make 2 loaves. I mashed my bananas, added twice the amount of sugar, then the flours, baking soda, and salt. What I didn’t realize until after the bread was finished baking and I was in the middle of eating a very undercooked (don’t worry, it was vegan), not-risen slice was that I had completely forgot to double ALL of my dry ingredients. So, 6 bananas, doubled the sugar, but only what was called for in one loaf for flour, baking soda, and salt. It still tastes good, but definitely not a winner in my book.
I swear I’m not this dumb all the time. I blame in on pregnancy. And I really hope my child comes out smarter than me!