#22: Bake Something from Scratch
My mom is the one who taught me how to bake. Many childhood afternoons were spent expertly measuring brown sugar, carefully cracking eggs, and gently punching down a perfectly risen dough in her flour-covered kitchen.
But my own little NYC kitchen is quite different. It's never been covered in flour...actually, I don't even own flour! My oven is used to store neglected pots and pans - some dusty - proving that baking is a thing of the past...
For Thanksgiving 2017, my dear college friends gathered in Tacoma, WA and suggested this would be the perfect time to whip up something decadent and scratch off another item off The 40 by 40 Project list. I agreed with one caveat: have a backup plan. Ya know, just in case.
I settled on Emeril Lagasse's "Chocolate Pecan Pie" recipe and decided that, to do it right, I needed to go a step further and make the crust from scratch. No half-assed baking here! So Thanksgiving morning found us all in the kitchen - many of us still in pjs - carting out all the ingredients to start the crust. In no time, flour was everywhere!
"Is this too much flour? Is the butter cold enough? Will you add more water? Is there a rolling pin? Did I screw this up? I should have floured the surface! Can it be saved? Did you buy pre-made crusts??"
It was a team effort, to be sure, but eventually, the dough was finished and could be rolled out. Then we had a quick "crust debate" on whether to flute the crust or try some other fancy design. Failure all around as I pinched and poked and squeezed the dough. Accepting defeat, and imagining Martha Stewart's shaking head, I grabbed a fork and called it a "basketweave pattern". It's all about the spin!!
With the crust complete, I added the pecan/chocolate filling and tossed the whole culinary project into the oven on a hope and a prayer. Dear Thanksgiving Gods, please make this edible. Amen.
For better or for worse, I'd just baked a pie FROM SCRATCH for Thanksgiving Dinner!!
Granted the crust was charred. And the filling didn't hold together. And there was wild debate on whether or not I'd used too much flour. But in the end, it was edible and I happily checked "bake something from scratch" off the birthday bucket list.
I'm pretty sure that baking won't be a frequent thing for me.
But at least I tapped into my childhood memories again to bake something yummy for people I love...
...and scatter flour in someone else's kitchen.
Special thanks to Jeff Auricchio for the black and white snaps!
And special thanks to Andrea and Les Hatton for letting me throw flour all over their kitchen!