Monday, November 13, 2017

Writing Prompt: Repairs

Day two of writing prompts from Natalie Goldberg's Old Friend from Far Away book. 

But first, a quick update on the apple coffee cake I made yesterday with white beans.  The turned out okay for the most part, but I made the mistake of baking it in a decoratively shaped bundt pan, and it fell apart as soon as I went to plate it.  The crumb was okay, and overall it was beautifully moist, though the fresh apples I put into it pushed the cake to a bit too far in that direction making parts feel a bit under-baked (it wasn't but the apples were soft enough to soak into the crumb enough to give it the impression).  I think next time I try making a white bean coffee cake I am going to leave out the fresh apples, use a bit more all-purpose flour to fortify the batter, and whip the egg whites separately and fold them in at the end.  Plus, no more decorative bundt pans for new recipes. That's the second... well, possibly third... or fourth time I've attempted a new recipe in one, and every time I end up having to scoop out parts of it.  So yeah, no more of that. Well... maybe. There is one pumpkin recipe that I really want to bake in my pumpkin shaped bundt pan.

At least the flavor was good.  I wouldn't have known that the coffee cake was made with beans had I not made it myself. So there's that.

And now, on to the day's writing prompt: Repairs.

What an interesting topic for a writing topic - repairs.  What have I attempted to repair, or repaired successfully? Many things, really, and covering quite the variety of "items" (from cakes to cars and quite a few things in between).
I think I'll start with cakes. I know I've showcased a couple of pretty cute cakes on this blog, but the fact of the matter is that while my cakes have generally turned out pretty tasty, the decoration of said cakes could generally (and generously) be described as... "abstract." Put bluntly, a 5 year old with finger paints could have done a better job decorating most of my cakes before I took official cake decorating classes.

That's not to say I haven't had a few "Cake Wreck" worthy doozies since I started decorating cakes as a hobby. One particularly embarrassing case was when a friend hired me to do the birthday cake of another friend. It was... an unmitigated disaster.  I was so excited to get the chance to do it that I oversold (and way overestimated) my abilities, and worse, I did during a time that my schedule was slammed and my overall health was deteriorating.  Long story short (ha!), the night before due date arrives and I hadn't had a chance to even bake the cake yet, nor had I slept more than a few hours a night for over a week - plus, I was supposed to pack and leave by 10 am the next day to drive around the Bay Area picking up a couple of people and taking us to meet other friends in the mountains. By 3 pm the next day a sad excuse for a three tiered cake with white fondant that had turned brown under the gold luster was sitting on my kitchen table, and my kitchen floor was covered in some of the food I was supposed to be bringing on the mountain trip.

Needless to say, if you had looked up mortification in the dictionary that day, my face would have covered the entire page.  My friend took the cake anyways, and paid me though she didn't have to (I never did cash the check - it would have been all kinds of wrong).  A few months later I made another cake for her, which despite the heat and humidity of my house, survived basic frosting decorations and an edible paper overlay.  I promptly retired from baking cakes for other people's special occasions (except my nephew and nieces birthdays - I'd find a way to sculpt the stars out of cake and frosting for them if it was anywhere within my abilities).  I still do cupcakes... sometimes.

Anyways, to get back on topic, I guess you could say I worked on "repairing" my cake decorating skills by taking cake decorating classes and practicing a lot, and realizing that my house is absolutely atrocious for frosting work of any kind due to the complete lack of proper ventilation in my kitchen which leaves it hot and humid if I so much as look at the oven.  Ah well, maybe some day I'll have a proper kitchen to work it.

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