Friday, October 3, 2014

Adventures in Fall Baking Week 1: The Pumpkin Effort

Happy Friday all!

It's the first Friday of October, and you know what that means!

Oh, wait. No you don't. 

But I do!

It means it's the first of a series of five Foodie Friday posts featuring all things autumn baking! wasn't such a great first day. Click "Read More" to find out where I went horribly, horribly wrong...

Yesterday morning, I was so excited about this project. I have been planning it for weeks, gathering my ingredients, and scheduling all of the things I want to make in advance. I don't usually "plan" so much, but I did this time because I was JUST THAT EXCITED.

See, yesterday morning, I loved baking. I'm guessing that's because I had managed to somehow block out all the parts of baking that make me want to rip my hair out of my head strand by curly strand. Sort of like childbirth. You know? You don't ever remember it being that bad...and then you do it again and you think "WHY AM I DOING THIS AGAIN? WHO ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH WOULD SUBJECT THEMSELVES TO THIS MISERY AND PAIN TWICE?!"

So yeah. Making this week's fall baking experiment was sort of like childbirth. And not in the beautiful, poetic metaphor kind of way. In the screaming-bloody-murder-I-am-never-going-to-get-this-right frustration and agony kind of way.

You may think I'm being dramatic. And I am, don't get me wrong. But I'm not exaggerating by much here. I think I may have scared my children with the intensity with which I attacked these Pumpkin Pop Tarts.

I used this recipe (but without the ricotta):

Aren't they lovely? They really are, aren't they? They just look so flaky and nice and delicious. They aren't perfect, but their imperfections fall squarely in the camp of "I'm a busy mom and I don't have time to make it PERFECT," so it's actually really cute and wonderful and homemade-looking.

I used my favorite old-reliable pie dough recipe and put it in the fridge to chill while my daughter and I cooked up the filling. 

It was going so well! I was so excited!

We sprinkled some flour on the counter (here is my daughter's "flour pile"):

And started to roll it out. 

And this is where things got ugly...

The dough was too crumbly. So I got my hands wet and worked it a little and rolled it out again. But then...

It stuck right to the counter! I couldn't lift it off! I ended up having to use a spatula, after several minutes of trying to work and work and work the dough to get it how I wanted it. I also ended up having to throw half of it away because I overworked it so much.

This was, of course, peppered with curses and swearing and vowing never to bake again and other things. I learned two very important lessons last night:
  1. Pie dough is a delicate thing and I should probably practice it more if I want to get good at it. 
  2. My daughter is the single most patient, kind, and gentle person I've ever known. It is because of her positivity and happy thoughts and fearlessness alone that I didn't entirely give up. She came up with ideas for how to fix things. She reassured me that these pop tarts were going to taste awesome even if they were ugly as sin. She calmed me and helped me to remember to have fun. 

What a girl. :)

I wised up and realized that this was supposed to be fun, not a pain in the ass. So we finished, making 6 whole pop tarts. I even got creative and made an orange tinted glaze to drizzle over the top. 

I give you...The World's Ugliest Pop Tarts!!!

Fortunately for me and my sanity, they were really, REALLY good. :) So overall, if you don't suck at pie crust like I do, I highly highly recommend that recipe.

Because of my pie dough failure, I ended up with a lot of filling left. I was a little bummed because I'd already whisked an egg into the pumpkin, so I couldn't keep it or mix it into oatmeal or anything like that. I had to do something with it, and I also had to do something to build up my baking self-esteem again.

A quick bread was definitely the way to go. I found this recipe:

I threw the ingredients together, threw it in a heart-shaped cake pan (no loaf pans, apparently - I gotta fix that!), and tossed it into the oven while the kids and I watched Project Runway.

At last, just minutes before the final judging on the runway, I was able to pull out a beautiful, perfect pumpkin bread. It was exactly how I like it - light and fluffy and moist on the inside, chewy and sweet on the outside:

We munched on our pumpkin pop tarts and pumpkin bread in front of the television and watched the STUNNING CONCLUSION of last night's episode.

Then, I slept like a freaking log.

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