Sometimes I wonder if top chefs ever have bad days in the kitchen. Really, I mean, does Chef Michael Smith ever have a kitchen flop? Or what about Curtis Stone? Jamie Oliver? Or great Canadian baker Anna Olson? Ugh. I had such a horrible day in the kitchen the other day, I really didn’t want to write about it. But maybe my flops (no other word for it) will encourage others to keep going.
It started with trying to reproduce the artisan bread that we did at Annie’s Table Culinary Studio in New London, PEI. My first batch of bread dough flopped, horribly! It didn’t rise! I waited the prescribed amount of time – 2 hrs – before putting it in the fridge for future use. But, meh, what a flop! The next day I wanted to use some of the dough for pizza crust, but what I had was a flat, heavy, icky dough that couldn’t be used for anything – except maybe putty! The entire batch was put in my green bin.
Maybe it was because I was distracted? Entirely possible! You see, here’s how it all started on Friday…..
I had been working at home on Friday, and around 4:30 figured that I should get dinner going. I made a marinade for some chicken and started that going. Next, I prepared a pretty big variety of vegetables and tossed them in olive oil and some herbs ready for doing a little grilling on the bbq! Yum. Then, I started the bread dough. Ingredients in the right proportion? Yep. But, keep on reading!
I looked over at my large red bowl. My red bowl is a favourite piece! I picked it up for $20 at HomeSense in Barrie one day. I use it for veggies or fruit, whichever I have most of at any given time. This time, it was filled with fresh peaches that I had picked up at a farmer’s market a few days before. Hmmm, what should I do with them? This is where I began to lose focus! I decided, off the cuff, to make fresh peach jam! I had the jars. I had the fruit. Why not? So, with a pot of water on the boil I blanched the peaches to begin peeling… and I was off and running.
Meanwhile, I turned on the bbq, and asked for some help from my very patient hubby!
The peaches were now peeled, pitted, and ready to crush the fruit. Within a few minutes the fruit, sugar, lemon juice and pectin was on the boil. Did I get all the flour stirred up? Yep! Is the bread dough going to rise…. focus…..
The jars are prepared, and the jam transferred to the jars and ready for the hot water bath. A quick peak at the dough… it’s not rising! Ten minutes later the jam was out of the bath and sitting on a cooling rack. Cookies!!!
Yes, cookies! I was heading to Kingston, Ontario to visit my son and thought I’d take him some homemade cookies, his favourites – Ginger Molasses. Started up the KitchenAid and got the cookie dough ready in a flash! (Thank you KitchenAid!) Combo smells in my kitchen – chicken marinade, yeast, peaches, and ginger. Quite the combo! But strangely it all had a comfort feeling to it.
Dinner is ready, the jam is resting (and must remain undisturbed for 24 hours) and the dough is prepared, and the cookies are coming out of the oven. I’m starved!
So… where is the flop? Oh, it’s coming…
Sunday. I wanted to make a homemade pizza for lunch. I pulled the container of dough out of the fridge… and it was AWFUL! Completely useless – as I said above. But it doesn’t stop there. We were expecting company for lunch so in a panic I sent Scott to our local grocery store, Vince’s, to pick up some fresh pizza dough. Horrified! Thought I should at least make a homemade dessert so with some fresh wild blueberries I made a blueberry crisp. Disaster #2. Last time I made it, I used ramekins and made individual crisps. This time I made one bigger one. FLOP! I have NO idea why! So, there we were with a rushed “homemade” pizza and a flopped blueberry crisp. Tasted great, just didn’t set. Then… found out that our company wasn’t coming – I had the dates wrong, a miscommunication – I was off by one week.
Then – it hit me! How I screwed up the bread dough!!! In my extra busy Friday in the kitchen (self-inflicted) I didn’t use warm water in the bread dough – I used cold. HUGE mistake! Huge ROOKIE mistake! The yeast didn’t grow as it didn’t have the warm water to help it along. With that revelation, I decided to start over. So last night, Sunday night, I started again. With four key ingredients (and using warm water this time!) I made more bread dough. This time, the dough rose beautifully. Tonight I baked a wonderful loaf of artisan bread – Annie style! Thanks Annie – I needed to pay more attention I suppose, or rather just stay focused on what I was doing and a little less rushed!
All in all, a good lesson. Lots of good stuff still made. Oh, and the cookies? Devoured!! So delicious.
So, don’t be discouraged, I screw up… miserably. But, tonight – ah the bread! The house smells great! And I have lots more bread dough in my fridge to use up over the next few days.
Until next time, happy noshing!