Adventures in Baking

I suppose baking might be labeled as a hobby for me. I love to make things from scratch – so long as it can be labeled a bread or a dessert. For some reason, dinner has never called to me that way.

I’m lucky to have joined a new DISH club where we get together for a couple hours once a month and go home with a dozen dishes to make later. The variety is pretty good, and while I might not have made these meals myself, I am enjoying the part about not having to think about it. I defrost it, cook it, eat it.

But that also leaves me open to pursue the baking front. My son’s birthday in January brought on a renewed love for it when I made my first from-scratch cake. It was a hot milk cake, and it was tasty, though it wasn’t picture perfect. I realized later that I made a mistake and overmixed part of it. It’s easy to do on a first attempt. I created two kinds of frosting for it, but I wasn’t really happy with either of them. The kids loved them.

I am pretty sure it was because I made the thing for company. Anything created for family automatically turns out beautiful because there isn’t anyone there to see it.

March brought birthdays for both my husband and my daughter. I know his favorite pie is rhubarb, and so I set out to make him one. Then I invited company, so I also made a chocolate mayonnaise cake (with brown sugar frosting). The problem was the pie bakes at different temperatures, and the second temperature was the same as the cake. So of course I put the pie in first, on the top rack.

I didn’t realize the racks were too close together, and put the cake on the bottom. The pie dripped on the cake. The cake rose into the pie. When I went to move the cake, the rack ripped off the top where it had risen so beautifully. Talk about a mess. I didn’t know where to put the pie, because the bottom of the dish was covered with chocolate. The cake fell and created a nice depression in the middle I then tried to cover with the frosting. I was lucky they both tasted good. The pie was the ugliest I have ever made – the crust wouldn’t hold together for anything.

Two weeks later, I made a pie that my husband wouldn’t have to share with anyone but me. It’s beautiful, even though I did forget to create air vents in the top crust for it to breathe while in the oven. I’m sure it’s because it was just for us.

Yesterday my daughter got to bring in snacks for her birthday, and I set about making a bunch of cupcakes from scratch. She was adamant about them being chocolate, though she only once mentioned (to my mother) that she wanted chocolate raspberry. They’re chocolate raspberry cupcakes with coconut milk-based dark chocolate frosting and they’re a decadent delight. I shared them with her teachers, too, and my friends. At gymnastics tomorrow I will share some more, because her birthday party is on Saturday and I need to make something else to share at the party.

I ended up making the frosting the night before, but in the morning I had to shower and hurry because I didn’t realize I was nearly out of eggs. (Why didn’t I check that earlier than the morning I’m making cupcakes?) They’re pretty, but both my kids tried to put their hands in the beaters while I was mixing things. I finished only soon enough to get to preschool and not to do the art project like usual. However, everyone who has reported back so far has enjoyed them immensely. [I cannot find a link for the cupcake recipe, though it was from Taste of Home.]

For Easter I made beer bread to go with my father-in-law’s chili, but I forgot it when we left. It figures. Now I have beer bread to eat with various meals. No mix there, either, because beer bread is so simple once you learn the recipe.

I made Semlor, a Swedish Lenten treat, only once. The recipe I had called for fresh yeast instead of dry yeast, and that threw me off terribly until I researched the differences between them. I have a better handle on it, so I’m going to have to make it outside the regular season once my daughter’s birthday party is over. All the research has done is make me wish I could get active yeast at my local grocery store, but so far no luck.

Good thing I’m chasing two kids around most of the time or trying to write when they sleep, or I’d be up to my eyeballs in sweets. Novel update – Don’t Tell Your Mother has seven chapters left in this edit, plus the subplot is mostly written and needs to be inserted. It will be done soon!

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