Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Mad Baking Fool

Had a bit of a bake-a-thon this weekend. (It was a hot Saturday night, home alone, just me and my tart pan.) I don't eat a lot of bread or sweets, so whenever I'm due at someone's house, it's an excuse to bake -- that way, if it's any good, I can give it all away. Sure, it's embarrassing to show up with a week's worth of baked goods, but that's what friends are for, right?

Here was the talley:

Molasses Cookies: I've been craving these for months and the craving returns every time I dig around in my pantry and stumble over a jar of blackstrap molasses. I used this recipe from Gourmet/Epicurious and instead of just cinnamon and cloves, I used a freshly ground mixture of cloves, cinnamon, all spice and star anise. (I have a secret love for my spice grinder.) Balled up, rolled in sugar, and baked, these cookies came out near perfect.

This Apple Tart: OK, I'm embarrassed to even compare my tart to this gorgeous creation. Let's just say mine didn't look nearly as tidy. (I'm *not* a whiz with pastry crust.) Going into the oven, mine looked like a small, formless lump of dough and apples but looked much better coming out. However, I neglected to use parchment paper and one side of the entire tart was stuck to the pan in a burnt sugar glue. "A" for idea, but an "F" in execution. It fell apart as I tried to get it out of the pan. I doctored the glaze with vanilla and cinnamon, then kept it for myself. (Hey, apples are healthy, right?)

Rosemary Popovers: I was going to make madeleines but I don't have a madeleine pan (or plaque, as they're called.) And the jury is still out for me on silpat molds. But I *do* have this $10 coupon for Sur La Table, so I almost went up there with madeleines on my mind. Then I looked at a pan that holds 10, a recipe that makes 60, and the sheer amount of baking time involved and decided there would be a better time to make French sweets. Plan B: I ran across a popover recipe clipped years ago and never tried. (At the time, I just wanted an excuse to buy the cool popover pan.) I didn't have any fresh rosemary (don't tell Kirts, he's swimming in it and I was just too lazy to get some over the weekend), so I used dried herbs de Provence instead. I left this as a backup, and in the way these things often work, I should just have made them to begin with. Super quick, super easy, they transport well, smell great, and they look good -- even misshapen!

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