Saturday, May 31, 2014

This Week In Culinary Disasters

Okay, I'm not a bad cook. I'm a wildly inconsistent one, though. Sometimes I knock it out of the park for weeks at a time and then, uh, there are weeks like this one.

It started out really well last Saturday with Double Chocolate Scones for which I bought a quart of buttermilk to only use one cup. Sixteen scones baked Saturday afternoon + a family of five = they were all gone by Sunday afternoon. That should have been a minus, shouldn't it? Have I mentioned math makes me cry? Anyway, I had three cups of buttermilk to figure out what to do with so of course that meant pancakes. So far so good.

It was the shortcakes that shook my confidence. Scones are easy because you need to separate them. With shortcakes and other biscuity things you need to bake them kind of smooshed together so they rise and I always forget. So the shortcakes tasted just fine, they were just shorter than they should have been.

Then there was the mayo. I made macaroni salad on Monday with regular mayo instead of the drippy-egg-yolk-yellow-did-I-mention-it's-gross?-gunk that's marketed as being "Amish style" by people who I'm not certain have ever met any Amish cooks. I have and I guarantee you that stuff is wrong. Anyway, somewhere between the macaroni salad and the chicken salad I was making a couple of days later someone other than me used up the rest of the mayo and put the container back in the fridge. It was late and I'd already changed into pjs by the time I discovered this so I did what anyone with a half an idea would do: I Googled "homemade mayo."

Yeah. Two things: when Emeril says "use a blender" then do that rather than trying to make do with a mixer and don't forget whose recipe you clicked because while I'm sure Emeril and Alton get along well in real life what happened in my mixing bowl was decidedly not friendly. It was just as well, really, because as I was standing there looking confused and swearing at the nonsense I was making my eleven-year-old made toast out of the two last pieces of bread. *sigh* I put everything back and had a bowl of cereal instead.

Now bread I can do, just not at 8:00 at night. I've had this recipe for so long that I don't remember where I got it (my stepmother is the most likely suspect) and it's so forgiving that even I can't screw it up. And it's reeeeally good. Like really really. Ready?

Honey Oatmeal Bread

You'll need:

1 1/4 + 1/4 c of water
1/2 c of honey
1/3 c of butter
5 1/2 - 6 1/2 c of flour
1 c of quick oats
2 tsp of salt
1 package of yeast
1/4 tsp of sugar
2 eggs

1. Proof the yeast in the 1/4 c of warm water and using the 1/4 tsp of sugar following the directions on the package. Set aside.

2. Combine the rest of the water, the honey and the butter in a saucepan and heat it till it's very warm but not hot. If it's too hot it'll kill the yeast when you combine them in step 3.

3. In a large bowl combine 4 c. of the flour, the oatmeal and the salt. Add all of the honey mixture, the yeast and the eggs and mix together.

4. Mix in the remaining flour and knead it until it's a sticking-together ball and then dump it onto a clean work surface that you've dusted with flour so it doesn't stick. Really knead the hell out of it for about eight or nine minutes. Feeling agressive? This is a good way to work it out.

5. Butter or oil a large bowl and put the dough into it, turning it around to make sure it's well coated. Cover it and set it someplace warm until it doubles. You can use a warmed oven but I just stick the bowl in my microwave and hope I don't forget it's in there.

6. Has it doubled? Punch it down and separate it into two dough balls. Form them into loaves, put the loaves into oiled or buttered and dusted with flour pans. Recover them and put them back into whatever space you were using to raise the dough the first time. Let them rise again for about an hour or so.

7. Preheat your oven to 375F. Mix together 1 Tbl of water and an egg yolk and brush it on the tops. Don't give it just one pass, really slap it on. Sprinkle some oatmeal on top and kind of press it down with your fingers gently so it sticks well. Bake for 35 minutes.

8. When they're done, pull them out and let them cool for about five minutes before you pop them out of the pans. Brush vegetable oil on all surfaces (again, don't be stingy) and let them cool completely.

9. If you're like me and can't wait till they've cooled completely then at least wait till you're pretty sure your mouth won't blister if you cut a piece and take a bite. Keep ice on hand just in case.

10. If at this point you still want a chicken salad sandwhich, put the loaves to cool someplace WHERE THE DOG CAN'T REACH THEM and go and buy some mayo, already.

That sandwhich? Made more delicious by the waiting for it. You're welcome. Have a great week!


  1. Ah yes, the buttermilk conundrum. There is powdered buttermilk that works well but costs a fortune and you are still stuck with the problem of what to do with the rest of it. These are pretty good, you will have to double the recipe, and use even more buttermilk. This one is also good and explains what you can do instead of buying buttermilk

    1. Oh, the blueberry cake looks sooo good. I wonder how raspberries would hold up in it.

    2. Have replaced raspberries with blueberries so it could work!

    3. Some friends just gave us half a dozen canes so I'm looking forward to baking with them already, lol!

  2. Should I be relieve you didn't try to make your own buttermilk? :)

    One can never accuse you of failure to be intrepid.

    1. The combining milk and vinegar or lemon juice thing? I have tried that and it only worked out well once. Stars must have been aligned that day. :)