Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Talent Is, er, WAS Baking…

Our church had a rummage sale and Harvest Festival on Saturday and I volunteered to bake both brownies and cookies for the bake sale portion of the event.

I didn’t volunteer to work the cash box for the rummage sale since trying to make change for people would have given me nightmares for a month. Adding and subtracting on the fly is not my strong suit and if more than one person was standing in line waiting for me to figure out exact change I’d end up embarrassing myself by frantically counting on my fingers and then blubbering in utter defeat when they corrected my bad math.

So, no money handling for me.

I also didn’t volunteer to do face painting on the kids attending the Festival because I can’t draw on demand. They’d ask for a butterfly and they’d cry when they saw the big purple blob adorning their cheek, which would be the Jane version of a butterfly.

I know where my talents lie – and it’s in doing the behind-the-scenes baking.

Or at least I thought it was.

You know how you have certain talents that you can always count on? Say you volunteer for an event. Some people are good at promoting it. Some people are good at entertaining. Still others are good in the execution phase – getting things done beforehand. And then there are others who are good at running the show.

If I’m running an event, I’m large-and-in-charge – but if not, my “thing” is preparing party foods and baking simple things like brownies and cookies. I’ve been baking since I was a kid and, other than that first lopsided cake wherein I used granulated sugar for the frosting instead of powdered sugar, I’ve had pretty good success with whatever I’ve baked.

Now don’t get me wrong. I know I’m not good enough to audition for Cake Wars on the Food Channel or anything. I don’t do fancy desserts that are scrumptious enough to be featured in gourmet magazines and I don’t do pies. I’m not, after all, the second coming of Martha Stewart – but you want soft, melt-in-your mouth brownies? I’m your go-to person. Want thick, chewy Oatmeal Scotchies or decadent Chocolate Chunk cookies? I am woman, see me bake.

I needed to bring my confections over to the church early Saturday morning, so my plan on Friday night was to mix and bake like a mad woman so I could go to sleep knowing I’d be ready for Saturday morning bright and early. I figured I’d bake a couple pans of brownies and, while they were cooling, I’d mix the cookie dough.

So what did I do as soon as I arrived home from work Friday evening? Did I haul out the measuring cups and mixing bowls? Noooo. I relaxed on the sofa and watched my DVR’d episodes of Modern Family and Survivor.

The whole time I was sitting there watching TV, I kept thinking that the brownies could be baking. But did I get up? Noooo.

As soon as Jeff Probst said “The tribe has spoken” and snuffed out some blindsided player’s torch, I hopped up and headed to kitchen where I finally hauled out the measuring cups and mixing bowls. I made two pans of brownies and put them both in the oven to bake. And then I started mixing the dough for Oatmeal Scotchies. I doubled the recipe, thinking that probably there would be a plethora of chocolate chip cookies and I didn’t need to bake any of that variety.

So what happened? The brownies in one pan came out half burned and half raw. The other pan was good except for the very middle pieces that were undercooked. And the cookies were so flat they stuck to the Airbake pans (which they are never supposed to do). When I was finally able to remove them, they came out in crumbles.

Arrrrggghh! How did this happen?? I never have these problems with baking – and how are we going to sell any of this mess?!?!

I suspect that I should have baked the brownies one batch at a time. I’m not sure I’ve ever attempted to bake two pans – let alone two at one time. And I obviously didn’t double something in the cookie recipe, but I still haven’t figured out what.

I was able to salvage about a dozen good-sized brownies and wrapped them for the bake sale. But I went to bed completely stressed because I didn’t have any cookies that could be used. In desperation, I looked around our pantry, but we didn’t even have the odd Oreo I could wrap up and pretend it was homemade.

So I got up at some ridiculous hour in the morning and once again hauled out the measuring cups and mixing bowls – and started over. Since I was completely out of butterscotch morsels, I had to go with the tried and true chocolate chip. I didn’t bother doubling the recipe. I figured if I had enough to fill my tray, I’d be good.

So I mixed and baked like a mad woman. I packed a lunch for Vince and brewed his coffee. I even got as far as cutting up onion and bell pepper for his eggs, but since I didn’t have a fifth hand, he actually had to crack his own eggs and cook them. Darn. And here I was thinking I was Superwoman. Guess not.

But the chocolate chip cookies came out perfectly.

Vince helped me wrap them – still soft and slightly warm and gooey. He headed to work and I headed to the church, happy that I had something to contribute.

But, man. My faith in my baking abilities was severely shaken.

Next time I should probably forego the DVR and sofa and get right to the baking task at hand. I should no longer trust myself to double recipes correctly. And next time I go to the grocery store, I think I’ll stock up on some Oreos. Just in case.

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