baking is pretty much just alchemy with edible substrates

Mmm. Smells Rather Good in Here

It is still six kinds of winter here. Freezing rain on top of snow on top of sleet on top of ice. The power cycles off and on, the humans crawl in and out of bed. Probably something is frozen and will begin geysiring water the minute it thaws.

Here’s something I jotted down the other day, before all of this hit.

The human female often responds to the cold weather with some sort of atavistic compulsion to produce baked goods. She and the human male—both of whom have been watching far too many British baking shows and have been getting on my nerves talking about “rise” , “crumb”, “proofing”, and “soggy bottoms”—put their limited talents together and managed to produce a pair of what seem to be actual, functional bread loaves.

Of course, they couldn’t be arsed to follow the recipe properly. Their bread has less sugar, and the human female, in a nod to nutrition (as if she isn’t just going to dive right into these carbs) replaced 1 cup of the bread flour with whole wheat flour. They look all right. The proof is in the toasting, though, so I reserve judgement.

Great Frigga’s hairpins! What now?

Some sort of mysterious recipe? I can barely read the scrawl, but I think I can make out the word “vanilla” and that word there might be “eggs.”

Let’s follow along, Sigyn, and see what results.

One stick plus 6 tablespoons of margarine.

Sigyn’s partial stick is straighter than my whole one, because–eww!–the human female had the whole one tucked under one be-sweatered arm to soften it up.

Eggs next. Odin’s Eyepatch! She’s going to use that snakey egg that looked so wonky! Maybe you’d better crack it into a glass, first, in case it’s not good inside…

Ah ha! A double-yolker. That explains a lot.

Sugar next.

Take care not to fall in, my love! I would not want you to get scooped up and shoveled into the eggs and margarine.

Now it looks like we need the brown sugar.

Looks like the human male opened this bag. From the bottom. Typical.

Mix, mix, mix, mix. All the wet stuff has been creamed. All the flour and salt and baking soda and cinnamon have gone in. I am guessing this is going to be some sort of cookie? Whatever the human female adds next will let us know what kind.

Oatmeal, raisins, and chopped pecans. You know, I will probably eat these. There’s nothing in here I don’t like!

Ehehehe! I should have guessed. She’s so lazy that instead of making proper cookies she’s mooshed the batter all into one pan.

It’s so hard to be patient!

Ha! That was fun! She didn’t notice when she put the batter in the pan that it was nested in another pan. The cookie(s) took forever to bake, and then I distracted her so they stayed in the oven even longer. Then she didn’t cut them and take them out of the pan while they were still warm.

Behold the 9″ x 13″ oatmeal raisin granola bar!

Well, maybe not all of it. The sides and bottom are pretty crisp, but the center is still nice and soft. It will take some work to get them out of there, though, I bet.

Snakey egg usefully employed. Kitchen perfumed and warmed. Cookies to look forward to. I call this making the most of a cold and wintry day!

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And now it’s now again. I can report that the cookies are no more. All gone. What with her habit of eating oatmeal for breakfast and then gobbling up all of the cookies, I reckon the human female at this point is 80% oats…

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Recipe Time: Orange-Cranberry Braggy Bafflement

The human female likes to bake. She also likes to show off.  When she can do both at once, she is really happy–and gives new meaning to the word “insufferable.”  She and the human male are at a gaming weekend in the Big City to the North, at the home of the parents of the Blue-haired Goddaughter.  The female has brought the makings of a dessert and plans now to do the baking of it in situ, in hopes that all the gamers will oooh and ahhh over her contribution.

What’s she whipping up today, Sigyn?  Ah, that old favorite–the ever-versatile buttermilk quick bread.  She found the recipe online, so though she likes to brag about her “special touches” and “original ideas,” it isn’t strictly true that this is her creation.

Pfft.  And people say that *I* lie…

recipe

She has all of the dry ingredients in the bowl already, including a weird substance she says is buttermilk powder but which looks to me more like dried library paste.  Or maybe that weird crumbly stuff you get when foam rubber dries out.

Now she has grated in the “zest of three oranges.” Except she doesn’t have three, so she’s used two, because “three is sort of like two.”

orangepeel

Confused?  Yeah, it doesn’t make sense to me, either.

What’s in the little bag, Sigyn?

ginger1

Ooh! Candied ginger.  Now this I actually like.  I hope she’s going to cut it up, though, since biting into a large piece can be at least surprising and sometimes unpleasant.

Oh, good.  It’s minced.  How much do we need?

ginger2

Ah.  I see we are using the TLAR* method today.  I assume the same applies to the dried cranberries?

cranberries

Uh, oh.  Now the human female has left the realm of recorded recipeage and advanced with all the fearlessness of the truly ignorant into the realm of gastronomic uncertainty.  She’s doubling the recipe (which is fine in itself), and for one of the cups of buttermilk, she is using that weird powder plus a cup of orange juice. I guess that could make sense.

squozeoranges

Great Frigga’s hairpins!  Those are are some thoroughly squozen oranges.

But now she’s completely lost the plot.  For the second cup of buttermilk, she is using a carton of yogurt…

yogurt

…plus some more orange juice.  Except she doesn’t HAVE any more orange juice, because only two oranges, remember?  So she has decided to make up the liquid volume with a third egg, because “three is kind of like two.”

We are ready to pour the frankenbatter into two greased and floured 9″ x 5″ loaf pans.

Except we don’t have them.  One’s a little bigger and one’s a smidge smaller.  One is nonstick.  The other is… not.

breadpan

I don’t know how she expects this to work.

(Later…)

It took baking the two loaves for different times and adjusting the baking temperature near the last, but we did eventually get two passable-looking loaves.

finished-loaf

Sigyn says the “crumb” is “moist and sweet, a little tangy.”  I think it runs more toward “a bit ‘eggy’ and not quite orangey enough, and we could have used more ginger and cranberries.”

But people are eating it and even asking for the recipe.  And she’s preening. Humans are a strange, strange species.

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*That Looks About Right