I am an alright cook. I'm not awesome; no one's asking me to star in my own show or anything, but I typically get good responses to what I do. I'm alright. One thing (among many) that I am not good at is baking. My success in baking pretty much begins and ends with Toll House break-away cookie squares - and sometimes I mess those up, too. I have thus decided to begin a journey. I plan to teach myself to bake and will chronicle this journey in posts entitled "Adventures in D'oh!" (Get it? Dough and Homer Simpson's expletive "D'oh"? Anyway . . .)
I begin this adventure, in keeping with my habit of being ever overly ambitious, by choosing a recipe I saw in a post by fudge ripple for homemade Ding-Dongs. This recipe calls for making devil's food cake, a fluffy filling and a chocolate ganache. Yes, that is 3 separate recipes - all from scratch. Formidable, right? Oh wait, there's more. I decided to make all of this for the Small Group from church that meets at my house on Wednesday nights. No time for a trial run. All done in one day while juggling a 4 month old and allowing time for clean-up, oh, and to make a double batch of chili, all before ppl start showing up around 6:15pm. Yes, I am an idiot.
#1 Lesson Learned: Use appropriate equipment.
I tried to skate buy by using a smaller sheet pan than suggested which made the cake have to cook twice as long as the recipe called for and also made the cake twice as thick as I needed it - which led to a deluge of issues. *sigh*
I also did not have access to a cookie cutter (though I went both to Wal-mart and to my grocery store, neither of which had a simple cookie cutter. Is it really that difficult, people?) As my friend, Kasey suggested, I could have used a glass to cut the pieces out, but I wanted more bite-sized confections that would be easy for people to just pop into their mouths. I therefore decided to use a plastic toothpick container, which cracked and broke after I used it a few times. *sigh*
#2 Lesson Learned: Adjust the mixer speed when adding ingredients.
At one point I was supposed to alternate adding dry and liquid ingredients to my mixer. I added the dry ingredients and got a cloud of cocoa powder, sugar, flour, etc. coating me and everything else within a 3' radius. I added the liquid ingredients and thus added a mixture of milk and chocolate/coffee splatters to the same surfaces. How about turning down the speed of the mixer when adding ingredients, huh? Slow down, speedy! I would like to say I learned my lesson after the first time I added the ingredients. No, it took me a few times before I figured out the solution to my problem. I know you're shaking your head at me. Its justified.
#3 Lesson Learned: Clean as you go . . .
Now, if Juniper were old enough to eat chocolate, right about here I would add adorable pictures of her licking chocolate off of a spoon. But seeing as she is still to young, you will have to settle for adorable pictures of me:
Since chocolate was EVERYWHERE, I did have to
Here is what fudge ripple's Ding-Dongs looked like:
And here are my messy results *sigh*:
Ganache is hard to handle, dang it! I guess this could lead to my #4 Lesson Learned: Follow the suggestions in the recipe.
She told me to use a spatula heated over a flame to smooth the ganache. I used a cold knife and my fingers. D'oh!
And finally . . .
#5 Lesson Learned: Presentation is everything.
If I had just left them looking like little turds on a plate, no one would have eaten them. However, wrap them in foil - no matter how poorly wrapped - and they become little presents with a surprise inside. Added bonus, I can then blame the poor ganache job on the foil mucking it up.
The verdict: They LOVED it! See?
They ate them all!
Moment of pure embarrassment:
I did make 2 bigger ones after my "genius" toothpick container/cookie cutter broke. At the end of the night, I found myself announcing to the entire church group, "I've got 2 large Ding-Dongs here if anybody wants 'em!" My face turned red. They all laughed. I love them. :)
*Side note: Folks even took the extra Ding-Dongs home to share with family and friends. Yes, they liked them that much! I am SO GLAD all that hard work actually produced something, not only edible, but good and well received!
Now, what do I do with the mutilated, left-over cake?
I hear you asking, "What was Juniper doing while you were whipping up a confectional flurry in the kitchen?"
Well, part of the time she was ENTHRALLED in Blue's Clues, of all things. She actually watched 2 episodes and squealed and giggled at the characters the whole time! The only time she got fussy was when the first episode ended and she needed me to start the next one.
I always feel really guilty whenever I depend on TV to babysit. At least it was educational, right?
Now, it is your turn! I am so interested to hear your baking successes/failures. Am I alone in the world of D'oh, or do others of you have the same struggles? Let me know!
If you post about it, grab the button! Yes, it is huge. I don't know how to make it smaller.