many weekends ago now, i had arranged with my old pal nicole for the loan of her kitchen, oven and kitchen scales for my very first baking mission. she had assured me that she would be able to get hold of kitchen scales from her mother or sister. the date was set and my mind was at ease.
on the day of the First Baking, i had a coupla things to do in town and thus lugged ALL my ingredients with me. this included large bags of flour, sugar, rolled oats etc. i also was short of pure vanilla extract, so had to make a trek to two different supermarkets before i managed to find it. while lugging ALL my ingredients around. i also bought a metal whisk and a shpanking new baking tray (non-stick).
my fingers were going numb and my skin was threatening to blister under the weight of ALL of Everything. still, i was in high spirits and made my way to nic's. once there, i heaved a sigh of relief - it seemed like such a long way to get there, really. so many hurdles to cross before reaching the final station. and there i was at last! we yabbered a little and i began to run through the recipe list. when i asked nic, "hey, where are the scales?", she went "oh... i forgot to tell you that i couldn't get any".
my mouth stayed open for a good 10 seconds.
my eyes may have popped a little too.
nic continued, "but we can just agar-agar right?" (agar-agar = the art of guesstimation)
"OF COURSE NOT!"
she took a look at the list, which has numbers like 185g 270g, 210-220g and other such interesting stuff.
"tell me how the hell are we going to agar that?" i said between maintaining my goldfish-look.
she finally realised the severity of the omission.
we ended up spending the next two hours sweating it out in her neighbourhood shops, trying to find kitchen scales. boy was it a mission and a half. it was hot as fuck, humid as fuck, and i was about to pass out from running around all day. the shops were built in the most confusing layout possible. i wonder if anyone has ever gotten so lost that they never make it home alive - their skeletons get discovered some 12 years later or something. at the end of the two hours, we struck gold.
a cute blue kitchen scale was purchased at $9.50.
heaving my second heavy sigh of relief of the day, we grabbed some yummy roast duck and headed back to nic's.
we decided to let the oven warm up while we consume dinner. i guess it was a bad idea to put the butter on top of the oven to let it soften so whisking it would be easier later. actually, it only turned into a bad idea when nic tore open the foil packaging of the butter before putting it on top of the oven.
a funny smell hit our noses before i even started measuring out the ingredients.
it turned out to be the butter running down, searing through the oven front and dripping onto the kitchen counter. thank god we discovered it early and the butter was mostly unharmed.
the measurements began. nic assisted with watching the scale while i poured the ingredients. after we had successfully measured three of the major ingredients, i took a peek at the scale.
"how come there are 5 segments for every 200g?"
"each segment is 50g right?"
"not if there are 5 and not 4!"
we peered at the cute blue scale with the offending segments.
"you're right. we've been measuring all the stuff wrong!"
who the hell makes kitchen scales with increments of 40g per marker anyway?
so i piled on additional grams of ingredients according to the agar-ation theory. which was something i was against right from the start. is this karma?
whisking butter, sugar and vanilla extract by hand was fun but quite tiring. after awhile, my hands were about to go on strike from the day's abuse.
blending the flour in with the mixture took sheer willpower. it was fucking hard! i felt like i was doing a super-power aerobics workout. whisking the butter before seemed easy peasy in comparison. now i know why people buy cake-mixers.
it doesn't help that nic's kitchen is quite a cosy (read: small) space and was beginning to feel like a sauna because we'd been heating up the oven for a darn long time already.
so naturally, the oven might have been overheated. a likely possibility.
because one of the two trays we put in, was totally burnt.
one tray turned out kinda okay, though a little too dry. i suspect it could have been because when we added more flour to make up for the error, it was too much. all the cookies also turned out to be giganormous things, because i didn't know they were gonna expand so much. teehee.
so that was my disaster of the First Baking. :)
determined to master the creation of these wonderful munchables, i set a date with nic's kitchen for the Second Baking.
it was a sunday evening. right after that saturday in town with audrey where i bought a brand new kitchen scale to replace that fuctup one with 40g markers. i remember preparing all my stuff to bring over to nic's, walking past our microwave oven at home and deciding to take a closer peek at its functions.
MICROWAVE CONVECTION OVEN - it said.
the very same one PK uses to bake.
it was a very blonde moment for me.
because the only reason why i chose to go to nic's was for the oven (since in the end i bought new kitchen scales instead of borrowing hers anyway). because i have always had the impression that we did not have a microwave with convection.
i scooted over to nic's to grab everything that i'd left there for the Second Baking, and operations were immediately transferred to my own kitchen. with its large marble table and occasional cool breeze. ah.
finally, in the peace and comfort of my own home, i was able to document the progress of the Second Baking.
i think i am a lot more focused when i work alone. no mistakes this time!
or perhaps it was because this was my second attempt. less uncertainty, less fluster.
thus, the Second Baking was a huge hit.
although i will still need to get to know my oven better... the heat seems to work in weird directions in my oven and isn't an even distribution. i ended up having to bake each tray carefully minute-by-minute after the initial 12 minutes each, in case they got burnt. each tray took an additional 6-8 single minutes, which was truly tiring. i will need to slowly figure out the best temperature and timing for the best results...
reviews have been excellent. the one that takes the cake has to be when an old pal asked if i bought them.