It’s November, which means I am officially starting my countdown to Christmas! Since we don’t actually celebrate Thanksgiving holiday here, we’re jumping right into festive, Christmas-y baking before the last week of November arrives. It’s my favourite time of the year and I’m super excited to make the recipes I have planned for Christmas already, but before that, I wanted to share some of the autumn recipes that did not make the cut.
I’ve actually been pretty busy in the kitchen even though it’s not as apparent on the blog. Poor planning, crazy whims, and the desire to use ingredients screaming at me in the fridge have led me to make some recipes that did not turn out as good as I would have liked, but that you might have some ideas to improve.
First up, this absolutely beautiful Applesauce Oatmeal Bread from King Arthur Flour. I had a small amount of applesauce in the fridge that was close to the date on the jar so I looked for an easy-peasy recipe from one of my favourite sites (KAF, of course). I came across this one, which consisted of pantry-friendly ingredients and just the exact amount of applesauce I needed to get rid of. I divided it in two pans, the bigger one sent off to relatives.
Filling it halfway was actually perfect, because this bread rises up nicely and gets that lovely crack I so love in quickbreads! Looking at the rustic-ness of the bread, I can imagine it being part of a breakfast table setting somewhere up in a mountain cabin. There it is, set alongside piping hot mugs of coffee and chocolate, just waiting to be happily devoured. You open your mouth to call the family to the table and decide against it for a little moment longer. You approach the dining room window and push it open to let in a little sunlight. With the cool breeze comes the scent of pine trees, entwining itself with the warmth of cinnamon and nutmeg.
What a pretty little picture this little bread paints, huh?
While this bread was truly gorgeous in appearance, colour, and texture, in taste it did not have that oomph to set it apart. It was ordinary as far as quickbreads went, with little hints of spices. Nonetheless, I could not stop taking photos of it and of its crumb.
Ahh now for something TRULY easy which you can throw together straight out of bed in your jammies! The secret is using a ready-made frozen puff pastry so that majority of the work is already done. All that’s left is cutting up the fresh peaches (even slicing it up in very thin slices to create a decorative tart if you want), mixing it in honey and a little lemon juice, then laying it on top of the pastry. I also poured the rest of the “sauce” on top of the peaches, which was probably a bad idea because it ran all over the place and made the crust soggy instead of crisp.
I need more lessons in manipulating puff pastry to create a nicer-looking tart like this one from Bakers Royale.
I made this peach tart because I wanted to try out the first store-bought puff pastry brand I found locally. I can’t remember what the brand even is but I found it at Rustan’s Supermarket, and to say that this pastry is nicely layered might be an understatement. Even drenched with the honey marinade, you can see that it rose at the edges to reveal its many layers within. So nice and pretty and sinful. But hey, it’s breakfast!
The flavour of this tart is largely dependent on the type of peach you use so make absolutely sure you use the sweetest, tartest ones you can find. The honey-lemon marinade adds a pleasant layer of sweet zing, but of course the peach flavour still shines through the most. Most stone fruits pair nicely with the buttery puff pastry so you can switch up your topping depending on what you’re in the mood for, or create several smaller peach tarts if you want.
My biggest heartache during this year’s autumn baking marathon. My goodness. I will never forget this day for several reasons.
Since I got a new oven, I haven’t had the chance to make macarons in it so this was the first try. I don’t know why I decided to film this attempt but I did, and I used this free tripod Canon gave me when I bought my new camera. It is by no means one of the best tripods ever, and despite the fact that I had a nagging feeling in me that I should switch to my better tripod, I for some reason decided to stick with this one. As much as I love Canon, even I cannot let this incident slide.
This tripod is one of the worst products ever invented. I checked all the locks and they were in fact secure, but then I turn my back for a second and suddenly the tripod’s legs have split open and my camera went crashing lens-first into the floor. Lens-first.
There were tears, guys. Plenty of tears. This was the new lens I bought just a few months ago and I barely had the chance to take it out yet. When I tried to operate it, the knob for the focusing would not work. The auto-focus would not work either. Though I was certain Canon can repair the lens, I still hated myself so very much at that moment– for being too stubborn and illogical and sticking to the stupid tripod; for wanting to film the darned macaron video when it was a dreary day and the lighting was horrible anyway; not to mention I had to unnecessarily pay a whopping sum unnecessarily because of my own stupidity!!! I wanted to throw in the towel and call it a day, and the only thing that prevented me were my ingredients already lined up.
I have this theory that whatever mood you go into as you bake something, it will directly affect the outcome of the recipe. I guess I proved it with this recipe, or maybe I was just having a streak of bad luck that day. I don’t know.
Sadly my cinnamon macaron shells did not grow feet (which in my book is a fail!), I broke an egg on the floor, and the general mood in the kitchen was so unpleasant that I did not finish my planned recipes on time. ARGH!!! I guess I was shaken by the incident with the lens that it turned me into a scatterbrain. I ended my kitchen session about 10 times more exhausted than I should be. And you know what I discovered? I can live without making macarons for the rest of my life, but I refuse to live without my camera and my lenses.
Anyhow, let’s talk about the failed macarons. I was sad about the lack of feet, which I guess means I still have to experiment some more before I can get a feel of how to make perfect macs in my new oven, but with the caramel apple filling these turned out surprisingly good! I wouldn’t quite call these Apple Pie Macarons since they tasted more like Candy Apple Macarons to me.
The crazy idea of putting some applesauce to act as part of the filling was the second worst idea of the day because they melted through my macarons and basically just turned them into a soggy mess after some time. I tried one with a fresh spoon of applesauce and it was tart and delicious, but it’s definitely not something you want to do ahead. Believe me. Luckily it was just an experiment and I decided not to add applesauce to all my macarons. The rest were simply filled with the Apple Caramel concoction I cooked. We quickly ate the wet macarons and when my brother Jason got to the ones without the applesauce, he literally began raving about them while I was all sad-faced on the side thinking about my lens.
Looking back on it now makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time. And by the way my lens is back and 100% fixed but I am still somewhat berating myself over the incident. My only comfort is in the fact that I threw out the tripod and I can earn back the money I spent to fix my lens. Better to commit all the dumb mistakes while I’m young, right?
Well that’s it for my diary for now. Writing about the lens incident makes me relive the feelings of that day, and if I could find a time machine and go back I definitely would prevent all those crappy things from happening. What about you, any crazy kitchen experiences lately?