I, my dear folk, am not a baker.
I have been trying to convince friends and family members for many years that baking is something other people should do but not a skill to which I should invest any further energy. I can cook up a storm, and if it’s going to take a week for certain recipes (heck, I’ll even go a few months if I’m pickling!)… Sure! Sign me up. But I’ve been beaten so many times when attempting to bake, that I’ve finally realized it’s beyond me. I think it’s a good thing to know your limits.
Take for instance, an example of an early attempt to bake a boxed cake. It turns out that 2/3 cup of water does not mean “between two and three cups.” Or the time I added a floral scented trash can deodorizer to a batter instead of baking soda. And I wouldn’t want to overlook how many times I’ve forgotten ingredients: Butter is one that’s often left out, but I’ve also missed the blueberries in muffins, apples in an apple cake, or the baking soda, baking powder, and sometimes, both. It’s just not my thing folks.
But I have kids, and they like baked goods. And even though I much prefer pickles, I get a hankering for something sweet every now and then as well. And now that the kids and I are back to our daily afternoon tea, it’s nice to have a home baked bit of goodness instead of the cardboard cookies that come out of a box.
I decided to hunker down and hurdle my baking shortcomings, and ran to the pantry to grab a few ingredients to make a clafoutis, one of our all-time favorite desserts. It’s a cross between a cake, a custard, and a pancake with fruit. It is really super easy to thrown together, and the results are nearly always stunning.
So I set the oven to preheat, prepared my pan with melted butter, arranged my prune plums in a beautiful pattern, mixed the ingredients for the batter, poured it in slowly so as not to disturb the fruit, then placed it in the oven ever-so-gently. After I closed the door, I realized I was looking at a bowl full of melted butter that never made it to the batter. Here’s what a clafoutis looks like right as your begin mixing in the butter while letting all the heat out of the oven.
Right. Fun times.
Of course, and hour later when I came down to take it out to set, I realized that when I mixed the butter in the batter, I also shut off the oven. So back it went with the oven turned back to the proper temperature, and off I went to grab the second grader at school while our lovely teenaged sitter watched the little ones. When I walked back into the smoke filled house (eek!), I ran into the kitchen and threw open the door, realizing through the thick smoke that poured out the the toddler has figured out how to turn the oven dials.
And I know you might not believe me, but I took that clafoutis out of the oven, put it on a rack to rest and chill, and that doggone thing was baked perfectly and tasted lovely. Sure wish I would’ve gotten a picture, but it didn’t last long…
I think I’ll stick to steak.