Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Baking in the heat

By that I mean we're baking in the heat (or at least it feels like that -- it's been in the high 90s for over a week) AND I've been busy baking in the midst of all the heat.

Besides baking cakes for the neighbors on either side, I also tried my hand at a homemade version of the Pepperidge Farms Brussels-style cookies. They're not available down here, so I knew that if I was going to satisfy the craving I'd have to make my own. I found a recipe for lacey oatmeal cookies so I made those, then simply melted some chocolate and spread between two cookies to create a sandwich. YUM!

Today I decided to make chocolate meringue cookies, in an effort to use up the egg whites that had accumulated due to some recent ice cream making.

[Side Note: Because I have no desire to heat up my kitchen any more than necessary, my survival technique during the summer months is to move our toaster oven out to the garage. Although it's a rather large toaster oven, it's still not as big as the regular oven and I only have a few pans that I can use with it. Which means cookies take a SWEET FOREVER to make. Depending on the cookie, I can make between 4 to 9 at a time (only 4 lacey oatmeal cookies, 9 chocolate meringues).]

Okay, back to the cookies. Since I had enough egg whites to triple the recipe, and each pan takes 1/2 hour to bake, I was working on cookies ALL MORNING LONG.

I also had a hankering to make a pineapple upside down cake. Lately I've been wanting old-fashioned style desserts, like pineapple upside down cake and banana pudding. Not sure where that's coming from.

Anyway, I found a great recipe on the Joy of Baking website and had the cake ready to go in the oven once the cookies were finally finished. In the process of making this cake I ran into two problems. For one thing, we don't have the option of light or dark brown sugar here. There's one kind, and it's DARK. Even darker than the dark we get in the U.S. So I'm a little disappointed in how dark the top of the cake turned out.
And the other problem was the baking time. The recipe called for 35-45 minutes, and since I know the toaster oven runs a little on the slow side I left it in for the full 45 minutes. But when I pulled it out, the center was still jiggly. So back in it went, for another 10 minutes. At that point it had stopped jiggling, but a toothpick came out with a little batter. So in again for another 5 minutes. Finally done! But that meant it baked a full 15 minutes extra, for a total of one hour. Not a huge problem, but I'm wondering why? I've not had this issue with other cakes.

And I think it's the high heat that's causing the meringue cookies to stay rather soft. Usually they firm up once they've cooled for a while, but that's not happening this time. Maybe because when it's 99 degrees, there's not much cooling going on.

Oh well, es lo que hay. And for what it's worth, no matter how my baked goods look (or feel), they taste just fine.  Wish I could share them with you! I'd love to have y'all stop by and enjoy a few cookies or a piece of cake, and some iced tea. I could use some girlfriend time.

P.S. No, we're not going to eat all this ourselves. Most will be given to friends and neighbors.


Mari said...

I would love to come and enjoy a little of that warmth along with a cookie!

sara said...

I recently checked out the book "artisan bread in five minutes a day" and am trying my hand at it...I hope it turns out as good as all yours!!!

Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

All your cookies sounded wonderful....I'm like you, sometime the mysteries of baking just amaze me. What works one day will not work the next. There are so many variables and so many different conditions that have a hand in your success or failure....

I saw Ann Burrell on the Food Network make some Focaccia bread yesterday and I have been itching to give it a try.....

Your baking in the heat and here it's 30 degrees.....


rita said...

Your baking marathon reminded me of Leah's. She got her new range on Wed. afternoon and must have baked non-stop until Christmas! Her chocolate meringue cookies were especially lovely and melted in the mouth!

skoots1mom said...

pineapple upside down cake is one of my favs...
bet it tastes great
we're really cold but the skies are beautifully blue today