Stressed… backwards

14 12 2011

Stressed spelled backwards is desserts.  Coincidence?  I think not!  – Unknown

One thing that stresses me out is baking.  It seems to be an exact science and if you knew me in high school, science was not my favorite subject at all. 

Years ago, a friend of mine decided to take a cake decorating class and asked if I wanted to join her.  Silly me said yes!  All excited about the class, I bought all the necessary tools I would need to decorate (which are now mysteriously missing).  I remember the first day of class and the instructor said for the next 9 classes, we would have to bring in an iced cake.  I put my hand up and like an idiot asked, “Can I just bring in a styrofoam cake?”  The instructor answered, “It’s better you bring in a real cake so you get familiar with it, and how it feels to actually decorate it.” At that moment I turned to my friend and said, “I have to bake a cake?  I quit!” 

I didn’t actually quit because the course had already been paid for in full.  So, I cheated a little.  Either my friend or my sister and her husband would bake my cakes and ice them for me.  They also made all the icing I needed for class.  =P 

I actually had fun learning how to decorate a cake – we learned how to use the tips to write, make squiggly lines and even make roses!  That part was fun because it was more like crafting to me.  Mid-way through the course, I was watching The Shopping Channel and saw the showstopper was a Kitchen Aid mixer.  I don’t know what came over me but for some odd reason, I wanted to buy this complicated piece of equipment.  I think it was the joy of decorating that blind-sided my vision that I didn’t realize I didn’t fall in love with the actual baking part.  Silly me again… I whipped out my card and purchased this lovely machine!  =S

When the mixer arrived, I opened the box and admired its beauty and imagined myself becoming a baker and all the wonderful goodies I would make.  When I snapped back into reality, I realized I had no idea how to bake from scratch.  Heck, I couldn’t even bake goodies out of a box.  I always mess those up too.  At that point, I didn’t even bother taking it out to try and use.  Sadly, the complicated  mixer stayed in its box for close to two, maybe THREE years!  Why, you ask?  BECAUSE I DON’T BAKE!  Someone forgot to remind themselves that they have never made anything from scratch.  Someone forgot to remind themselves that they get stressed out from baking.  Oh boy… why did I not realize my love of decorating not baking?

A couple of weeks ago, my friend had a booth set up at a Christmas Bizarre.  There happened to be a lady there who sold these delicious cookies that tasted like brownies.  I got excited about these and thought to myself, I can bake these!  I looked up the recipe and thought that it shouldn’t be too difficult.  So I asked DH to get Kitchen Aid mixer out from its box buried in our basement so that I could use it to make the cookies.

On Saturday night, when Baby H went to bed, I pulled out all necessary ingredients and attempted to use the mixer.  I must admit, this mixer scared me.  It scared me so much I kept the mixing level on the lowest setting.  In awe, I watched the whisk go round and round.  For some reason, my ingredients weren’t coming together properly (like what I kept seeing in the video).  I was getting frustrated and discouraged very quickly.  Was this another failed attempt at baking?

In desperation, I asked DH if he could watch the video and see if I was missing a step (and yes, the video was not in english again – and no, I obviously didn’t learn my lesson).  DH to the rescue again!  He said I needed to turn my settings higher so that it would mix at a faster speed.  I turned the dial up and all of a sudden it was coming together.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t actually bake the cookies because the recipe calls for the dough to be refridgerated for 3 hours.  It was already late so I let it sit over night.

That same night, I attempted the crème caramel again.  I wanted to try making it again so that I could practice before making it for my brother’s birthday dinner with the family.  It almost turned out perfectly but I cannot get the melting of the sugar to turn out they way I wanted to.  The caramel sauce tasted a bit burnt.  =(

On Sunday morning, I eagerly rolled the dough into balls and finished the last steps to the cookies.  The next thing I knew, I was popping them out of the oven!  Ahhhh…. I was so excited!  They turned out nicely and the best part…. they didn’t taste bad at all!  My girlfriends that were over were loving them.  Although they didn’t taste fudgey like the ones I had bought but, I actually enjoyed them!  I will definitely be making them again.

On Monday night, I had to make crème caramel so that I could bring it to last night’s birthday dinner for my brother.  After researching how to melt sugar and turn it into caramel sauce, DH and I attempted different techniques.  After a few fails, we finally suceeded!  Oh joy!!

See below for pictures of my baking successes!


The Recipe for Failure

7 12 2011

You learn you can do your best even when it’s hard, even when you’re tired and maybe hurting a little bit.  It feels good to show some courage.  – Joe Namath

It only takes two ingredients to create the recipe for failure.

me + baking = DISASTER

Let’s remember my name here is “Far From Pefect Mom” – not, “The Pefect Mom”.  So why do I even bother trying?  You know, I fail EVERY single time!  I don’t just ruin the stuff made from scratch… I even ruin the boxed mixes – you know, the one that you just add water and eggs.  It is actually quite funny to me.  It’s just that I always try hoping to succeed one day and I actually learn from my mistakes so the next time I try, I’m just a tad bit better.

I tried to make Crème Caramel last night but I was not too successful at all.  Although, DH did give me an A for effort =)

I think I made the crème part okay but the caramel part was a disaster from the moment I started!  I found a recipe online to make this rich dessert and I thought it was great because there was a video that I could follow.

First step for failure… make sure the video is in a language you understand.  I didn’t think I needed to understand what the baker was saying but that’s where I went wrong!  The recipe calls for the melting of sugar on the stove top.  So I copied the baker’s actions in the video – stir the sugar.  For some odd reason, my sugar was forming clumps instead of becoming nice and liquidy.   After standing at the stove stirring the sugar for what seemed like an hour, I asked DH to see if he could understand the video.  DH said I should not have been stirring the sugar right away.  I had to wait for the liquid to form and then stir later on.


So I decide throw the first batch away and start over since I still had the crème mixture waiting for me in the fridge.

I patiently waited for the sugar to melt… and SUCCESS!  I finally got the consistency I wanted.  I realize the pan I was using was too small for me to add the crème mixture so I quickly find another pan and transfer the liquid caramel before it hardens.  The pan is now the right size… I swirl the liquid caramel to even it out in the new pan.  I wait a few minutes for the liquid caramel to harden just a bit before I pour the crème mixture in.

I slowly pour the crème mixture in and I begin to steam the new pan.  Success?!

WRONG!!!!  Yet another fail  =(

Second step for failure… make sure you use/have the right equipment, such as the pans.  When I was looking for a larger pan, I grabbed a springform pan (the type of baking pan that you can remove the sides from the base).  When I poured the liquid caramel in, I checked to see if it leaked.  It didn’t so I decided to pour in the crème mixture.  I thought everything was fine and within seconds of steaming, the pan started to drip and leak.

DH quickly finds another baking dish that wouldn’t leak and we quickly pour out the crème mixture.  I was able to save that but not the liquid caramel – it already hardened.  Because it was already late and I didn’t have enough patience to make a third batch of liquid caramel, I decided to just steam the crème mixture.  That actually went okay.  After steaming it and the crème firming up, DH tasted it shortly after it cooled and said, “It tastes like it’s supposed to.  It’s just missing the caramel flavor.”

Hahahaha… obviously the caramel flavor is missing!  I messed that up!

Now that I know what pans to use and the proper techniques… I will attempt to make this for my brother’s birthday dinner next week.  I will definitely let you know how that goes!