Yeah, I got a little cocky. Cooking had been going pretty well so far, we’d thrown a couple of dinner parties with 4-course meals, homemade salad dressings, and lots of kudos (accolades, not the chocolaty delicious snack bars). I mean, we’d gotten to be such fancy pants’ that we bought “hot” shot glasses in which we served appetizer soups with a splash of cream atop. Winning!
It started innocently enough when I saw a persimmon in the grocery store and thought hmm, since I’ve never seen that before, I should probably buy it and figure out how to cook it! Sidenote: I have to make up a lot of fun housewife-y challenges to keep my mind busy and yes, that was the highlight of my day. Anyway, when I got home and looked up recipes, I realized that it mostly was used in baking (breads, cakes, and cookies, you get the idea). Prior to my stint as a housewife, my baking inspirations included Betty Crocker and the Pillsbury dough boy… and while I may have been a champ at adding eggs and oil to a pre-made mix, the last attempt I’d made at actually baking from scratch was in the 5th grade. But what the heck, darn, twist my arm, if I have to bake cookies then I guess just have to. And besides, cooking is just like baking and that didn’t turn out so badly, right?
148 people– who actually know how to bake– reviewed the recipe online agreed that the recipe was “delicious”, “a crowd pleaser”, and “something people couldn’t help taking seconds and thirds of.” Not one reviewer described their cookies as “rubbery”, “dough-tasting”, or “hard”… weird, I thought, since that’s exaclty how mine turned out. Needless to say, I brought them to a party where I presumed everyone would be too drunk to notice how bad they were and, true to form, the drunks ate at least half of the plate. In a show of heroic friendship, our friend Zach (whose wife Talley, just to give you some context, writes a blog about cooking) ate an extra two in front of me and exclaimed that tasting the deliciousness of the cookies was worth the food poisoning he was likely to get later from them. Yum!
The next day, determined to blame the persimmon and not my baking, I thought it would be fun to bake a pizza crust. Oh yeah, except that since I never bake, we don’t have yeast in the house and stores are closed on Sundays in good ol’ Switzyland. With a non-yeast recipe in hand, thinking I was extra clever for getting around that potential landmine, I triumphantly mixed and mashed and baked. The hardest dough you could ever eat. Luckily, Florian had had the ingenious idea to cook the chicken and toppings on the side so that we wouldn’t “ruin everything” if (when) the dough didn’t turn out right. Also luckily, we’re fat kids, so we ended up eating the whole thing hard bread thing anyway.
Two failed attempts at baking made it harder to blame anyone but the chef. Damn! Then cue Mother-in-Law to the rescue! Charlotte invited me over for an all-day-bread-making extravaganza. Really, you know she is legit when she has a Kenwood power tool mixer thingy that is ready to knead the dough into shape for you. I mean, she even buys the fresh/natural/organic yeast from the refrigerated section! And to think that all this time (ie, 1 week) I’d been buying my crappy yeast from a little dry packet. Total amateur hour. But we worked 9 hours straight on a TON of breads… whole wheat breads, Zopf (for my Jews out there, the Swiss eat Challah but call it Zopf and claim it’s not Jewish), pumpkin bread, the works.
Highlight of the whole day: making the bread into funny shapes. Charlotte made a little man bread that sort of looked like he was in a mental institution straight-jacket, and I laughed for a very long time as she tried to fix it and inevitably made it look like a man with a scarf, a man giving a big hug, and once again back to a crazy person in a straight jacket. Then, possibly to get back at me for mocking her crazy man bread, I think she called Florian and told him I was being a perv and making penis-shaped rolls. I mean, I can’t be 100% sure what she said since it was in German and all, but I think “penis” is universally understood? And there I was, making completely innocent shapes of cute little hearts for my hubby and four-winged bird penguins.
Here are pics of our successful baking (weird, I must have totally forgotten to take pictures of my failed attempts at baking…).