Posts Tagged ‘Baking Soda’

Minor Disasters: Gingerbread

October 28, 2009

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How could something that seems so simple–so easy–so, so, so…elementary turn out so disastrously?

I bring you my newest kind of post: “Whoopsies.” Here, a baking whoopsie: I bring you gingerbread.

My excuse: okay, I grew up in a household that didn’t do cakey gingerbread. Instead, twice a year, we baked (and we still bake) gingerbread cookies: turkey-shaped cookies for Thanksgiving, and bears for Christmas.  Everyone has a role: my mom expertly pipes the icing, and my sister and I get sprinkles/sugar/red hots duty. You should see the way Mom crafts it. You have never seen more realistic-looking suspenders-wearing bears.

Even though I’ve never made gingerbread in its true loafy sense, I didn’t think that it was going to be hard. And maybe it isn’t hard. Maybe Sunday just wasn’t my day.

How did this ever begin? Well, I should take a second to mention that I live within walking distance of one of New York’s best-kept secrets: Two Little Red Hens bakery.  When I was writing my Master’s thesis, I used to go on long, procrastinatory walk down along the East River, and on my way back I’d stop in for some kind of treat. “You can eat this (cupcake/cookie/key lime tart) when you finish writing a page,” I’d tell myself, but I’d always end up polishing off half of my purchase before I made it to my building. It became such a habit that the counterstaff remembered not only my name but my previous orders. “How was the apple cake yesterday?” the girl behind the counter would say as she handed me a slice of peach pie. For some reason, though, I tended to shy away from the gingerbread because it was one of the only items that was consistently available. Maybe I felt the same way about this gingerbread that pretty girls tend to feel about nice boys: it was too available, too easy to get. It would always be there when I needed it. Until one day, disenchanted by the promises of cheesecake and eclairs, I realized maybe what was in front of me was what I really wanted all along.  So I got the gingerbread. I raved. I swooned. I wanted to make it myself.

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Olive Oil Cake

August 26, 2009

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To my great delight, the heat in New York has given it a rest (knock on wood) for the time being. Of course, the first thing I did was to heat up my kitchen–first by making a lasagna, and then by whipping up this little delight. I’ve been hankering after an olive oil cake since I watched Top Chef: Masters (don’t judge) last week, when Michael Chiarello made one as a dessert for his three-course meal. Or was it his buffet? I don’t remember.  His didn’t come out that well–it was judged too soggy. I was kind of glad because in the long run it helped to lead my man Rick Bayless to victory, but nevertheless I thought the recipe itself was a good idea that I hadn’t tried before.

Anyway, this past weekend I was headed downtown on the second avenue bus to meet Jason for dinner, forgetting, of course, that the second avenue bus takes forever to go eighty blocks. Luckily, I was in possession of the September Issue…of Bon Appetit, that is. One of the first recipes to catch my eye was this little number, straight from the pages of the RSVP section (basically the mad libs section of BA: “I ate ___(food)____ at __(restaurant)____ in ___(city)___and it was __(adjective)_______.  How do you make it?”)  And what did I find there, but a reader’s request for the recipe for olive oil cake from Abraco coffee shop here in Manhattan!

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