Monday, May 30, 2011

Baker v Homemaker

This past week the scale had definitely tipped in favor of baker.  But I have a little bit of an excuse as I was meeting with the future bride and groom on Saturday for a tasting. 

The bride-to-be and I had corresponded regarding design, servings, price and flavors.  I have a list of cakes and icings that I've had good results with and sent to her for some ideas.  I offered the tasting knowing that I would be baking a lot of cake for a small amount.  But you can only reduce a recipe so much without risking the integrity of the final product.  On Friday I ended up making four cake recipes that turned out to be somewhere in the neighborhood of six dozen cupcakes.  The hubs appeared to be getting a little worked up that I was just giving the couple a dozen cupcakes.  I had thought about this briefly myself.  But I quickly realized that I've given away dozens upon dozens of cupcakes to people who are not going to be paying me so what's the problem with a dozen cupcakes for a tasting?  None.  No problem to be solved and I still have cupcakes to get rid of.

Earlier in the week I had made the three buttercreams of my four icings, leaving only the milk chocolate ganache for Friday.  When the cupcakes were finished and it was time to turn my attention to the ganache, I noticed I didn't have as much cream as I had thought.  It still was enough though.  Enough if the ganache turned out perfectly.  Which it didn't.  I stared blankly at this ganache for the longest time wondering what I had done wrong.  I've made ganache dozens of times.  I'm still not sure exactly what I did wrong, but I did it wrong twice.  After running out to get more cream and more milk chocolate for a second batch, it turned out exactly the same:  cream of chocolate soup.  I decided I would chill it, see if I could whip it and hope for the best.  I did end up with something I could pipe, but not what I wanted.  

There is irony to the ganache saga.  Saturday morning I had the idea of melting some chocolate and blending it in with the ganache to firm it up.  Just before I was getting ready to pour the melted chocolate into my container of ganache, a brief flash of sanity overcame me and instead I added a small portion of the ganache to the melted chocolate.  It seized immediately making me so very grateful I'd not ruined all of my already marginal ganache.  I set the bowl of seized chocolate/ganache aside to deal with later when I had time.  That turned out to be Sunday.  I looked at it, poured a little milk over it and threw it in the microwave for a couple of 30 second bursts.  And about a minute later and some quick whisking I had the perfect ganache I had been looking for.  **Sigh**

The strawberry-chipotle preserves turned out fairly well.  The taste is awesome, but I will do a couple of things differently should I made this again.  First and foremost, I will double the batch.  This was absolutely not enough to process in the canner.  Second, I will rehydrate the chipotle chiles before adding them to the preserves.  Even after all of those repeated simmerings, they were still kind of leathery.  Finally, I will not keep the lid on the pot when I'm heating up the preserves.  The extra moisture from the condensation left me with soupy preserves.  But apparently soupy was my theme for the week.

The taste test - pass or fail.

Can you guess which?  Here's a hint:
I stopped short of licking the plate.
 So now that the preserves are done and the tasting is done, it's time to tip the scale back in favor of homemaker for awhile.  In addition to the mundane tasks (such as vacuuming stairs and dusting the ceiling fan hanging from the 14 foot ceiling) I also have a few gardening projects to accomplish.  Why I've waited until we're having near record high temperatures to work on gardening projects is beyond me.  Since I really don't even like hot weather, this will definitely be another test of my resolve.  We'll see how long it takes my resolve to melt.

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