Baking Fails

For every successful bake I have, I have at least two unsuccessful ones. No one is perfect, least of all me. I can post all the pretty pictures of beautiful bakes I want, but the truth is…I fail more often than I succeed. Baking is a science and thus, there are so many things that can go wrong. Rather than hide these failures, or pretend like I am so adept in the kitchen that I am immune to making mistakes, I’m going to share a couple recent bakes that went wrong. Why? Because…I’m human. We all are. Nothing comes easy.  You have to work for it. You have to want it. You have to practice. You have to embrace your mistakes because how you come out on the other side of them is what shapes your success.

I know, I know – you are yelling at your screen, “get to the good stuff already!” So here are a couple “bad bakes” from the last couple weeks.

The Eclair.

I have made plenty of pâte à choux before. And I will make plenty more. I can make excuses…I was in my mother’s kitchen…in a different environment…with her new ovens…the weather was wonky (all these being true)…but something, I can’t put my finger on exactly what, went wrong. I ended up with flat eclairs. The upside? They were tasty AF. So…we ate them anyway. Just not pretty enough to make the cut for their own blog post. FEAR NOT, FOLLOWERS. I will be attempting them again! Also, don’t judge my horrible attempt at a chocolate glaze. In my defense, I didn’t use a recipe…I just threw some ingredients in a saucepan and it didn’t go well. Again, tasty. Just not quite right.

 

The Passionfruit Cheesecake.

Disclaimer: I legit suck at cheesecakes. This time was no different. Over the last weekend, I tried to make this particular cheesecake TWICE. Oh yes. Twice. Both abject aesthetical failures, one being edible, the other not so much.

I scoured three different grocers before finding passionfruit. And they cost me $1.99 EACH. For this recipe, I needed about 10 of them. So that means I spent $40 on a single recipe. I was so pissed, you don’t even know.

So the first time, I read the recipe as needed “passionfruit puree” – so I whipped up some passionfruit puree (which, as you may know, means you scoop out the pulp, you add some liquid and you create a thick mixture). 45 minutes into the bake, the cheesecake was jiggling waaaay more than it should. I baked it another 10 minutes…still a jiggle fest. So I check the recipe. It says PASSIONFRUIT PULP. PULP!!!!!! Not puree. So I added too much liquid and the cheesecake wasn’t going to set.

The second time, I carefully followed the ingredients, did everything the recipe called for…and it looked like this:

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SO SAD. I began researching…I followed the recipe TO THE LETTER. What went wrong?? Here are my theories.

  1. I didn’t grease the springform pan.
  2. I didn’t bake it with a water bath so it wouldn’t crack.
  3. Apparently, you aren’t supposed to whip a lot of air in with the eggs. So while I followed the instruction and added them in one at a time and mixed well after each…I did so on high speed and beat the crap out of that batter. So, loads of air, plus no flour to stabilize the cheesecake…means that as it cools, the air bubbles pop…and DEFLATEGATE.

Lesson(s) learned. The upside to this one, texture was creamy and smooth, passionfruit flavor came through very strongly and it was actually tasty to eat. Just not a pretty cheesecake and cutting it…it fell apart. I fed it to a couple of my colleagues who said that it was fine if I wanted to keep “messing up” my bakes if it meant they could eat it. Thanks guys 🙂

Moral of the story? I struggle to perfect recipes everyday. I’m a home baker. There are so many things I don’t yet understand about baking. And now, when you see me blog…just remember that, chances are, it took me a few times to get it right, so don’t be disappointed if you don’t nail it the first time. Mistakes in the kitchen are how some of the best recipes have been created, so embrace it!

Irish Cream Cupcakes

I love a festive cupcake – heck, I love cupcakes for all occasions. So, even though I’m not an Irish lass, I celebrated with some green and a nip of Bailey’s to mark St. Patrick’s Day!

This super moist cupcake packs a little surprise with the addition of just a few mini chocolate chips and frosting can easily be adult-only or kid friendly to your liking.

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Let’s get started, shall we? Recipe adapted from http://www.food.com

Cake Ingredients

3/4 cup unsweetened Ghirardelli cocoa powder
3/4 cup hot water
6 tablespoons butter
1 2/3 cup cake flour (you can sub all-purpose if you want)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

Frosting Ingredients

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 (1 lb) package confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream (sub heavy cream for kid friendly cupcakes)
1/8 teaspoon gel/paste food coloring

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake tin with liners (I made about 24 cupcakes with this batter).

MIX cocoa powder and hot water in a small bowl until dissolved; set aside.

MELT the 6 tablespoons of butter in a microwave proof bowl or cup; set aside

STIR flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl.

ADD buttermilk, eggs, melted butter and cocoa mixture to flour/sugar mix and beat until fully incorporated.

STIR in mini chocolate chips.

DIVIDE batter among liners. HINT: for perfectly even cupcakes, use a disher (aka, a mechanical cookie scoop) to divide the batter among the liners. If you use the Oxo brand, I use two medium scoops per liner.

BAKE 18 – 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

TRANSFER cupcakes to wire racks to cool.

Meanwhile…

BEAT 1 cup room temperature butter until fluffy.

STIR in confectioners’ sugar until blended.

ADD Bailey’s (or heavy cream) and beat until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes).

STIR in food coloring until blended.

PIPE or spread frosting onto cooled cupcakes.

ENJOY!