Something always seems to go wrong when I’m in the kitchen and it panics me and I worry myself sick…but everything *also* always has a magical way of working out. With that in mind, I thought it might be fun to pay homage to my 10 most memorable near-meltdowns.
8. The 5AM Coffeecake. When relations soured at my old apartment, I avoided my roommates like the plague. This meant I could only bake when they weren’t home…or, when they were sleeping. That was the case bright and early one morning when I actually baked before dawn rather than risk running into one of them.
7. The Pecan Pumpkin Pie. I thought this sounded like the greatest compromise ever – the best of both worlds! But when I brought it into work to share with my colleagues, they were brutally honest. Especially one woman. The lesson I learned? People like pecan pie or they like pumpkin pie, but they do not like them together in one pie.
6. The Case of the Jiggly Pies. I had an orphan Thanksgiving with friends in New York a couple of years ago and was responsible for dessert. My roommate was doing the turkey and fixins at another apartment and I was supposed to arrive at a specified time, pies in hand. I made the chocolate coconut pecan tart without a hitch, but she insisted on pumpkin pie from The New Best Recipe Cookbook (which she actually gave me for my birthday last year) and I had to jot down the recipe over the phone…if the darn thing had baked in the specified time, I would have been on time. But it just wouldn’t set and so I had Thanksgiving revelers calling to ask, “Where are you?” and had to blame the jiggly pies, thus delaying the entire meal.
5. Andy’s Grasshopper Pie. I blogged about this recently, so I won’t beat a dead horse. Suffice it to say I had the wrong color booze and it looked like pea soup until I added enough food coloring. And I dropped a meat thermometer in my stove.
4. The Tunnel of Fudge! I thought this would be the perfect way to celebrate the anniversary of my old office’s move to New Jersey (Get it?? We had to take the PATH train under the Hudson River…) but I tried to use a new silicon bundt pan and I’d never used silicon bakeware before. The recipe said the “tunnel of fudge” was supposed to “magically appear” during baking. But this, too, was incredibly jiggly and I couldn’t tell whether or not it wasn’t done yet or if the jiggly part was the fudge tunnel that had magically appeared.
3. The Leaky Pie on the Subway. I’ve already bemoaned the incident with my baked goods carrier on the morning train – it is intended for rectangular dishes and I tried to strap in a circular pie dish. I couldn’t get a seat that fateful morning and was precariously balancing all of my belongings (in addition to said baked goods carrier). Then, all of a sudden, I heard, “Ma’am? You’re leaking” and was horrified to see a pile of sugary, cinnamon-y goo at my feet.
2. The Lizbeth-themed sugar cookies! When one of my work friends was preparing to move far, far away, I decided the best way to celebrate her tenure was to bake sugar cookies (I think she specifically said, “No chocolate”) and then write Lizbeth-y phrases on them with icing. The matter was complicated, however, when I could not find icing at my local grocery store. The employees there were slightly hostile (I was telling this story to a friend way back when and tried to explain my hesitancy by saying, “They could be kind of mean” and he said, “Mean? Good lord – they’re hateful as hell!” So…that made me feel better about my reluctance to ask for help. Finally, I spied what I *thought* was blue icing. I purchased it and went home to decorate cookies. But after I wrote my first phrase on my first cookie, I realized that the “icing” was bleeding through the cookie. Horrified, I re-examined the package and realized that I had, in fact, purchased concentrated food coloring for icing rather than icing itself. Luckily, my roommate’s live-in boyfriend (yes, that was passive-aggressiveness) had recently had a birthday (it’s actually coming up again soon, if memory serves) and so there was icing on hand as a result. I had to abbreviate some of my phrases, but I was able to make it work!
1. Without a shadow of a doubt, it’s the Burning Coffeecake. I have a recipe for a coffeecake that requires two layers of batter with canned pears in the middle. As such, it requires a certain degree of eyeballing when you’re pouring the batter. It’s not so tough with one…but I was trying to make TWO and obviously didn’t do them evenly. Long story short, one overflowed onto the bottom of the oven…it burned and set off the fire alarm. To make matters worse, I had forced a friend to stay after work to go to a going away party with me and he, in turn, forced me to stay at the going away party longer than I wanted to and so I didn’t get home to start baking these coffeecakes until 11 or so. So…by the time it was burning it was around midnight. I was wearing pajamas. The fire alarm company called and I explained that it was an accident – I hadn’t eyeballed my coffeecakes very well but everything was under control…when I heard sirens.
“They’re not coming here, are they?” I asked.
“There’s no way we can cancel a call like this,” they said.
I reluctantly went downstairs and opened the front door to find no less than a dozen firemen in two trucks. They had the hose out and everything and were preparing to save me.
“I’m so sorry!” I kept saying over and over again.
I tried to offer them coffeecake (I had two, remember?), but they refused.
Then I tried to bake them pies to say thank you (this was around Thanksgiving, too…), but, unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out how to alert them to my presence (do fire departments have doorbells?) so I ended up just taking the pies to work and they never knew I baked pies specifically for them.