Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tales From My Oven

If my oven could talk, it would probably say, "for the love of crud, girl, CLEAN ME!" It's true. I have a dirty oven. I think about cleaning it; I even have oven cleaner. I really should clean my oven.

If my oven were feeling a little less cranky (and clean) it might, instead, say, "I sure am working less now that Craig is gone; thanks for the break!"

With Craig gone, my baking demand has lessened drastically. As you could probably surmise, I miss baking terribly. I even put Ebony, my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer, out of sight and off the counter because the very sight of her collecting dust in her unused state, makes me sad. In the end, it's probably a good thing I'm on a hiatus. Butter and chocolate ain't cheap. Also, I've actually lost a couple of pounds since Craig left. Not a noticeable amount, or anything. But, the number on the scale is a wee bit smaller than it was before Craig left. Could it be that not eating the brownie corners and tasting for quality control purposes is the culprit? Probably.

The joy of looser pants and lower grocery bills aside, I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things in the fall. I can already smell the warm scents of autumn permeating throughout the house: cinnamon, apples, pumpkin. Down right warm and cozy, even if it's 80 degrees outside right now.

Thankfully, this last three months haven't been a total baking dry spell; I've had a few occasions lately to heat up the oven and pull Ebony out from her slumber. I've had a few bake sales to participate in, and, not to mention, it's Teacher Appreciation Week, as well.

This morning I arose with the roosters to bake Snickerdoodle Scones for Caroline's teacher, Mrs. Fay. Another mom was meeting me at the school with some coffee to give Mrs. Fay before the crazy school day started.

I've never made scones before, so on Monday I set out to bake a test batch. My test batch was *okay* but nothing to write home about.

Still, I ate two of them.

Yesterday, I tried a different recipe; one that included sour cream. These were MUCH tastier.

I ate two of them.

The thing about scones is that they're total calorie and fat bombs. I actually discarded the remaining two scones because I didn't trust myself around them. Besides, no one needs to eat that much butter in one day. Unless you're Paula Deen or the Pioneer Woman, I guess.

I'm glad I tried the second recipe, even if it meant I had to make a special trip to the store for sour cream. I HAD sour cream, but I dropped in on the floor Monday night. That's okay, these scones made the trip worth it.

I had a muffin disaster Friday night. Most of the gunk in the bottom of my oven, and the resulting smoke, can be attributed to this muffin explosion. It was ugly. But I prevailed.

These are the coffee cake muffins I baked for the bake sale that coincided with last Saturday's Croc Trot 5k.

These muffins proved to be a real labor of love. I scoured the internet for coffee cake muffin recipes which led me to the ever wise baking goddess, Martha Stewart, for this recipe. I studied it intently. I read and reread the reviews on her website. I even went out and bought jumbo muffin tins for this very recipe. They were actually labeled as Texas muffin tins. With everything being bigger in Texas and all.

Several of the website reviews said, that while the muffins were indeed tasty, there wasn't enough batter to get the 12 muffins the recipe stated it would yield. Not wanting to have skimpy muffins, and knowing I'd pledged to donate 12 muffins, I made extra batter. Somewhere along the way I didn't add enough baking powder, but I didn't notice that right away. I also managed to fill the muffin tins TOO full.

I'm sure you know what happens when you have overfilled muffin tins. Why, they leak, of course. Batter dribbles over the sides of the pan, dropping batter onto the oven floor, causing smoke. The smell of burning sugar is one that should be avoided at all costs.

In a way, it's kind of funny. It's also important for me to note that I prudently made these muffins the night before they were needed. This graciously allowed ample time for any needed damage control. I had originally intended to wake early Saturday morning to bake, but after doing some quick calculations, I figured I'd have to get up at 4:30 to have them baked, cooled and wrapped before the 7 am deadline.

Um, that wasn't going to happen. I don't mind getting up early, but 4:30 on a Saturday seemed a bit unsavory.

So, in what turned out to be a very, VERY wise decision, I baked on Friday evening. After the explosion, I freaked out, then laughed and vowed to make another batch; I then proceeded to eat the crunchy streusel bits off the tops of the muffins. Caroline helped with that task, too.

I allowed the oven to cool a bit so I could scrape out the burned sugar parts with a metal spatula. The oven smoked a bit afterwards, but I didn't have time to clean the oven fully. I had muffins to bake, after all.

Thankfully the second batch came out much nicer.

As it turns out, the Bake Sale was a bust. Last year, after the 5k, the school hosted a Health Fair in the Cafeteria. The PTA lso conducted a bake sale, which was considered quite a success. This year, they opted out of the Health Fair, but decided to keep the bake sale. Only, they seemed to have overlooked one teeny tiny detail: runners don't usually carry money with them. Oh, and not to mention, the runners are provided with post race snacks, free of charge.

Needless to say, there were a whole lot of baked goods left.

At one point, I saw all my muffins being put into a grocery sack. A little later, my friend, who happens to be on the PTA board and organizes these things, came up to me and said "well, your muffins were a hit; they're all gone." I saw them being put into a bag, with my own two eyes, so I honestly thought she was lying to me. Lying to prevent me from feeling badly that my goodies didn't sell.

I wouldn't have felt bad. None of the goodies sold.

And, while we're on the subject, I do not think that people should sign up to provide coffee cake and then bring a box of Little Debbie coffee cakes to the bake sale table. If people want Little Debbie coffee cakes, they'd buy them at the store. I may be way off base here, but it seems to me that bake sale patrons would rather have homemade treats. Treats made with real ingredients. Not preservative laden, overly processed snack cakes. There is a place for Little Debbies, for sure, but their place is NOT on a bake sale table.


If my friend had lied to me, I didn't begrudge her for it. I figured she was saying that just to be nice. To spare my feelings. I can appreciate that.

In the end, the remaining bake sale treats were packaged up and given to the teachers, so all was not lost. It worked quite well, with it being Teacher Appreciation Week and all. A happy accident, perhaps?
As it turns out, my friend really wasn't lying to me. She told me yesterday that one of the teachers bought all my muffins at the bake sale!

Evidently, she approached the bake sale table, decided what she wanted and asked for a bag to put all the muffins in. Of course, I witnessed the bagging part, but not the part where they were actually being purchased.

I just love a happy ending.

1 comment:

Ali said...

Great job on the cookies! I bet Mrs. Fay will enjoy them & appreciate your effort.