Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!

An Opening Declaration:

In keeping with my original mandate for this blog, that being to write about my failures as well as my successes, I present below a recounting of the former. Not all is perfection and grace in my kitchen.

An Opening Declaration Ends.

I hate it when my oven picks a fight with me! Invariably it does so when I'm baking for company. I suppose I should have expected it; the danged thing had been behaving much too well for much too long. This time it happened at a gathering of friends who happen to be artists. Everyone talks about their projects, ideas, and connections. My contribution to the conversation tends to be my baking. "It is your art form," Michele likes to say. I'm not quite convinced but I do love feeding people good food.

This time around I thought I'd make two dishes – biscuits and a zwetschgendatchi – and since biscuits are best eaten warm, I waited until after folks had arrived to begin baking. I wanted the tart to be a little warm, too, so it would go in after were done. 

The biscuits went in. The biscuits came out. And I thought "Those don't seem to have risen like they should have." The tart went in and I finally had a chance to have one of the biscuits. When I split it to put butter and jam on it, it was very clear to me that they hadn't baked through and through. And when I took the tart out of the oven, after leaving it in longer than I ever have, it looked like this:

What a mess!
The pastry was crap. The plum juice hadn't gelled like it normally does. I was mortified...absolutely mortified. I take a lot of pride in what I do and even when things don't quite go to plan, I can put something delicious on the table. When I serve something that is basically inedible, I feel as though I've let down not just my guests but my baker's heart (if there is such a thing). I removed the busted biscuits and the terrible tart from the table.

Thank goodness I had two flavors of ice cream in the freezer to offer folks; that somewhat salvaged things. But this oven debacle wrecked me for the rest of the night, most of the next day, and into the next evening. I went to bed but my brain buzzed with all the different reasons for this problem and how to address it. I hope against hope that the answer wouldn't be "convince the management company to get us a new oven."

The next day, I couldn't wait to get home from work with a new oven thermometer to run some tests. (We used to have two of those at some point. Don't ask me what happened to them.) I used it to test the oven at three different temperatures and found that the preheat time had increased from about fifteen minutes to almost a half hour from when the electronic thermostat beeped readiness! Big, big change! The oven seemed to hold a temperature okay but I'd have to build in an extra twenty minutes or more into my prep time, to be on the safe side, to make sure it actually reached the target temperature before I put anything in it.

Armed with that knowledge, I bought more plums – the last of the season – and set out to redeem myself. Please to observe:

Full Size.
They were perfect. Crust, filling, taste...all were as I wanted them to be! Tart Redemption Achievement Unlocked! *phew* 

Time put this particular fight behind me and move on to other things.

Currently listening to: The Dramatics - Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get



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