Kitchen Mishaps of 2016

I would like to say that 2016 was fairly uneventful as far as mishaps go. Granted, the ones that happened were pretty frustrating but I eventually came to a solution to all of them in the end.

2016 took off with a bang. This Dutch Baby Pancake Recipe was featured on BuzzFeed which was super exciting for a small food blogger like me. 

But then I got to making cake, specifically a Chocolate Cake with Chantilly Frosting for Kristen's 21st birthday. Now, cake and I get along decently well. But I am no MollyTessa or Adrianna, although these ladies are definitely a source of inspirationI am definitely a pie person or a coffee cake/streusel person vs. a fancy layered cakes person. 

But, it wasn't the whole layered cake business that got me. It was tackling the frosting that got tricky. I've never made Chantilly Frosting* and it looked very easy. I mean there were very few ingredients so what could go wrong? I was determined to make this cake before leaving for New York and I had planned out how I was going to make the cake on one day, then the frosting on another day and finally assemble it all together. But instead, I whisked this frosting until I felt my hand get itchy, red and aching. Then, I ran to the store for more evaporated milk and began the process again. After a dozen egg yolks, the frosting still wouldn't thicken (That's how I got all the egg whites to make Swedish Nuts for the holidays btw). So, being the slightly stubborn person I am, I left the cake in the freezer and tightly wrapped the frosting and stuck it in the fridge hoping that by the time I got back from the East Coast, it would have thickened. It didn't. 

*If you do decide to try making Chantilly Frosting, Kristen says to cook it directly in a saucepan, whisking constantly at medium low-medium heat. 

So, after the success of these Earl Grey and Chocolate Ganache Macarons, I decided to make that in a cake form. I'm glad the frosting worked out because we ate cake for days after that.

A lot of times, I don't read a recipe correctly. And well, this is one of those incidents where I was making a super simple cornbread recipe but misread how much leavening it contained which resulted in ultra dense cornbread muffins instead of the fluffy ones I was looking for. It wasn't that bad because I eventually ate them all. But probably with baked beans or chili so I didn't have to suffer through their texture just by themselves. 

Here is the disaster of the summer. Remember the Homemade Fig Newtons I made? Well, they didn't start off as lovely as it would seem. When you decide to let a pot of hot, sugar simmer/boil on its own without stirring it while you watch How I Met Your Mother for the second time in a row, it tends to burn extraordinarily. But of course, I didn't catch it until I smelled that burnt caramel smell. And then aw crap, it was ruined. Also generally speaking, it's not a good idea to touch your finger on the tiniest prick of what was really hot sugar. That stuff burns. So if what should be jam turns into hard, burnt candy, it's best to start over and monitor your jam and not what trouble Ted Mosby is getting himself into. 

Ahh feijoas which I thought were guava. It turns out, after processing and juicing a hundred or so of these, the smell can really get to you if you have a sensitive nose. But, I wasn't going to let them go to waste so I decided to turn them into curd. The curd set and turned out fine but it was again the smell (this is what I think dirty, wet laundry smells like) that got to Kristen and I. So I quickly jarred the stuff and stuck them in my fridge and later in the depths of my freezer. I keep hoping that one day I will come around and find out that I really like the curd. But, at this moment in time, I don't think that is the case because my stomach still does a little flip when I try to imagine the smell. 

This is probably the biggest mishap of the year. Or it ties with the Chantilly Frosting. But, since it occurred on Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday and biggest eating day of the year, I say it does win the Biggest Mishap of the Year Award. This describes what happened pretty well but what the heck, I'll relive it again because it IS pretty funny now. 

The Tale of an Almost Thanksgiving Disaster: This is one full of hope, denial and eventual success.

7 p.m., the night before Thanksgiving: Hmm yeast isn't proofing fully but it will be okay.

7:20 p.m., the night before Thanksgiving: Why is this dough so dense while I'm kneading it??? And sooo heavy.

10:30 p.m, the night before Thanksgiving: Dough still hasn't risen, maybe it's just taking it's sweet, sleepy time in the fridge?

3 a.m., Thanksgiving Day: Not risen at all...think, think, think...well, time to start over!

3:45 a.m., Thanksgiving Day: New dough formed and hoping it will rise while having dreams that it doesn't.

5:30 a.m., Thanksgiving Day: Yay! Just as pillowy as ever!

7:15 a.m., Thanksgiving Day: Damn, burned sugar is sending the smoke alarm off.

7:45 a.m., Thanksgiving Day: DONE. 

1:00 p.m., Thanksgiving Day: Demolished.

From this, I have learned what I should have remembered last year and that dense doughs won't yield soft breads. And make sure your yeast proofs fully! Oh yea, here's a tutorial I made super early on when I started this blog

And the bread saga continues. I made the same squash/pumpkin cinnamon bread with the intention of making a cute turtle for my baby's cousin's first birthday (which was a success) and other mini loaves (which were also a success) and decided on doing a braided loaf with the extra dough (which was pretty). However, when you decide to shove about a third more dough into a loaf pan, it tends to take a LOT longer to cook, overflows at the edges and sets off the smoke alarm again because of burning sugar. My neighbors must really love me. I really need to remember to just put a pan lined with a non-stick sheet under sugary bread loaves more often. I had to run to hapkido, so the middle was a bit more doughy than intended, but still edible overall. 

Here is another case of not reading a recipe correctly. As treats to send to friends and family, I decided to make these Chewy Spiced Ginger Snaps which was going all well until I baked the first batch and and was scratching my head as to why they weren't flattening (the ones on the left). Then duh, it hit me that I hadn't put any leavening in the recipe. So I added the other part of the balls I had already rolled back into the dough, added the respective baking soda and baked a second batch which thankfully flattened out as they were supposed to. 

I thought the Ginger Snaps were the last mishap of 2016 until I remembered that I had another erroneous calculation while making super easy Chocolate Chews. While trying to half the recipe, I misread the butter and added in the full amount. Later, this made sense when I looked at the dough and wondered why it had the consistency of buttercream. So it ended up being the full recipe in the end. Don't worry, I made sure the leavenings were of the correct amount this time.

So here's to 2017 and another year of reflecting on mishaps with the hopes that none of them ever lead to burning down a house or food poisoning someone.