Tag Archives: baking

Another #FAIL

“Give me yesterday’s bread, this day’s flesh, and last year’s cider.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

My Uncle came for a weekend visit this summer with my Dad.  They are great house guests because they like to have drinks, and eat, and watch The Masters.

While on their visit, my Uncle mentioned that my aunt bakes her own bread and has several “levains” she has begun and uses to make sourdough bread.   One of those involving grapes from a Napa Valley vineyard.  I know…awesome.

So, to my Uncle and Aunt….I apologize.  You have a gift I do not.

Using this guide as well as this guide and the advice contained in The Joy of Cooking I attempted my own sourdough levain.  More commonly called a “starter”.  I’m no Alton Brown, but the process involves letting yeast, water, and flour ferment while “feeding” it with additional flour and water.  When the levain develops the proper flavors, its ready to be used as a base for bread.

At least that’s how it’s supposed to go.

Attempt #1:

Okay...let's try this again

And yes, I do own a trout shaped spoon rest.

Attempt #2:

Good so far....


Annnnd...nothing is happening.

Nothing.  Attempt #2 did not change.  Nothing happened.  No bubbling, so frothing, no expanding.  Huh. (scratches head)

Attempt #3:

Attempt #3 started well.  On day 2 it had a little bit of a yeasty smell….and then another day or two, it started to smell sour…sort of like booze (which according to my Facebook friends,  is what you’re going for).  Then….

It turned black.  No seriously.  The “hooch” portion (the liquidy stuff) turned a dark bluish black.  It. Was. Nasty.  I think that a freakishly hot day made it too hot in our kitchen….

…or something like that.  It was too gross for a photo.  Trust me.

So,  after three valiant tries, I felt entitled to cross “Sourdough Bread” off the list.  A girl can only endure so much.

But I’m still curious as to what I was missing.  Part of me thinks that I simply lack the patience to give the starter the attention it needs.   Any tricks I missed?  Anyone out there had trouble with this?

In the meantime, I will stick to the lovely sourdough at my local bakery.  They  have the process down pat.  Well, the bakery and my Aunt.

xoxo Flyover Foodie

p.s. Only 3 items left on the list!! Get ready to make suggestions…we have a new list to form!

Our first #FAIL

After eating chocolate you feel godlike, as though you can conquer enemies, lead armies, entice lovers. ~pastry chef, Emily Luchetti

When I started this adventure and built my list of 30, I tried to strike a balance between the pretty much foolproof success of a few simpler dishes and the challenge of more masterful recipes.  A girl needs a couple guaranteed wins.

I also promised myself that even if something was burned/dry/tasteless/poisonous I would post about it .  And to follow through on that promise, I present to you “Molten” Chocolate Cakes.  (quotation marks intentional)

Most of the recipes for this dessert are very similar, but I used this one because it could be cut in half easily; it was just myself and Handsome Husband eating these desserts.  I kept finding recipes called for 3 eggs and I have NO idea how to measure 1/2 an egg.

So I melted the chocolate, butter and cinnamon (I’m not a big nutmeg fan) in a double broiler.  I then added this yummy mess to the mixture of flour, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a mixing bowl.  And into the prepped ramekins it goes.  Easy enough, right?

Batter filled, buttered ramekins. Wow, that sounds really amazing. Just wait...letdown coming shortly.

By the way, I also love my clearly un-prepped picture above.  Please note all the chocolate drips.

In to the 400° oven they go.  The recipe said 12-14 minutes, but that seemed long.  I set the timer for 8 minutes….I came back and checked….still gooey on the top.

Sidenote: This is ANOTHER recipe with instructions to cook until the “edges are dark”.  Um, the batter is CHOCOLATE.  It was dark when it went in.  Not. Helpful.

I pulled them out at 10 minutes….let them cool for a few.  Used a knife to loosen around the edges and then used an oven mitt to turn them onto plates.

By the way, we have this running joke about “loosen” vs. “unloosen” in the flyover house.  If I say I “loosened” something, Handsome Husband will, inevitable, ask “Are you sure you didn’t ‘unloosen’ it?”.  For those keeping score, the words loosen and unloosen mean the same thing.  Also, we are nerds.

Ok, they still look pretty good here....do not be deceived!

A little dollop of topping and then I delivered one decadent little plate to Handsome Husband…who was kind enough to pause Mad Men as I ran back and forth to the kitchen.  Keeper.

He cut his lovely cake open…..AND, AND…..


Nothing.  No molten stream of edible chocolate lava.  No rivers of richness.  No fountain of dessert decadence.

Yup…I overcooked ’em.  At this point they were basically like a dry cupcake.  And no one likes a dry cupcake (unless it has delicious frosting, which this dry cupcake does not).

My guess is that the remaining two desert-like cakes will suffer the same fate as many dry desserts in the flyover household: into blender with ice cream and some milk.  Dry baked goods = cake shake.

xoxo Flyover Foodie

p.s. I thought that it was cute that the last pic above had a crossword puzzle sitting on our fireplace with a pen.  Upon closer inspection…nope.  That’s my husband’s fantasy football cheat sheet.  Fan-cy!

Morning, Sunshine!

“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.” – John Gunther, American journalist and author

I love breakfast:  Sitting at the kitchen counter; big fancy brunches; en route to work; sitting at my desk.  There is something great about the first meal of the day, enjoyed while sipping hot, fresh coffee.  I especially love breakfast treats.  Like apple fritters, cake, tiramisu,  and Christmas cookies (I have a weakness).  And cinnamon rolls.  Homemade cinnamon rolls.

On occasion, I do to pop open a tube of the pre-made cinnamon rolls while bleary eyed on a Sunday morning.  Although, I have an irrational fear of losing an eye when the seam gives way and it actually “pops” open.  I flinch every time.  But I was excited to try something more authentic.

I found this recipe from Alton Brown and planned on getting up early to make the dough and then going back to bed for a couple more hours while the dough was rising.  Plus, the flyover pup does a daily 6am wake up call complete with pouncing, so getting up early would be easy.

Dough Hook

Whisk Attachment

So 6:15am, I’m in the kitchen, looking like Sebastian Bach circa 1988, starting to make the dough.

You start by whisking your eggs, buttermilk, sugar, and butter, then adding some of the flour and yeast in a mixer.  Now the fun part: switch out your whisk attachment for your dough hook.  Pop the champagne: this was the maiden voyage of my dough hook!  And its an awesome attachment.  It does all the work and you just slide the dough off the hook when its pulled away from the sides of the bowl.  Genius.

Now, put the dough into a bowl with a little non-stick spray, cover, and let it rise for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.  Feel free to go back to bed at this point.

Dough: Step 1

After rising, the dough will have doubled in size.  It’s soft and stretchy and full of air.  By now everyone at our house was awake.  One of our house guests wanted to touch the dough saying, “it just looks so soft”.  I love that…the appreciation of the process of real cooking.

Dough: Step 2, doubled in size and very "touchable"

Turn the dough out, knead out the air, and roll it into a big rectangle, with the long side nearest you.  “Long side” is the mathematical term.

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