Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Baking, the Last Frontier

Cooking, I can do.  By cooking, I mean sauteing, steaming, and roasting over an open flame.  Baking, on the other hand, involves more precision and patience, and not much of the room for remedy that cooking offers. So, having built a new home, gone back to homeschooling Elise, and gardening, I think it's about time I seriously make some baked goods!

I started out with making squash muffins.  A friend shared with me her squash bread recipe and I adjusted it by using whole wheat flour.  Over the holidays, I went back to Manila and decided to bake some there.  It tasted different.  The whole wheat flour I bought at All About Baking in Quezon City had a different aftertaste, and the vanilla I used was too strong.  Here in Puerto, the vanilla I used was just the local one manufactured by Neco. When I got back here and baked it again, the muffins were "back to normal."

I tried dusting them with powdered sugar for presentation purposes.  But what I REALLY wanted to do was sprinkle some squash seeds on top.  There aren't any available here, and I didn't really feel like drying any. 

I tried baking cookies too, but they came out flat.  I was so disappointed because I used to make cookies a lot --- in the 1990's.  Then, late 2012, I lost my touch.  One of my friends who is a pastry chef said that I might be over-creaming the butter and sugar, or I might be greasing the cookie pan too much or the quality of butter might not be good.  I baked again and adjusted the creaming time and did not grease the sheets anymore since I realized that my cookie sheets are grease proof.  I also switched now from Baker's Best to Magnolia Gold butter.  Now, I think the butter was too softened to begin with. 

So, I moved on to trying to make my own bread.  Last month, I searched for a video that would explain to me visually how to bake bread.   I wanted to see how wet dough and a dough ball would look like.  I searched You Tube for "How To Make Pan De Sal".  

I watched the video, intently transcribed the instructions, and baked bread! 

Not bad!  They were quite heavy and not as airy as I expected.  One factor could be the yeast.  The recipe called for Active Dry Yeast, and what was available at the grocery was Instant Yeast.  I will have to research how to use instant yeast when the recipe calls for active dry yeast.  My guess is just to mix the instant yeast with the dry ingredients. 

A few days ago, I went back to muffin baking.  A friend asked me to make some banana muffins for her.  But instead of walnuts, I used macadamia.  The flavor of macadamia did not blend well with the banana, and Elise and Nacho did not like it.  They could not finish a single muffin.  I baked a batch again and used lakatan banana instead of latundan, and substituted macadamia with cashews. 

They came out so well that I delivered some to some other dear friends this afternoon.  I got to use those cupcake liners and boxes from RM Boxes which I bought in bulk when I was last in Manila.  By the way, they ship to Palawan too!  

So far, so good. :)

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