Tuesday, February 16, 2010
if at first you don't succeed...
As noted several days ago I grew up in a baking household. Make valentine cookies? No problem! What I didn't remember is that in days of old The Mothers (that's what we called them) made the cookies and we, The Fortunate Children, decorated.
There's a reason I gave away most of my cookie cutters a few years ago. Rolling out dough and cutting shapes is a thankless and lengthy process. Of course I rarely do this so I am not practiced and astute about the timing of all things cookie cutter related, but with dough whose consistency fluctuates because of its butter content (cold butter, hard dough; warm butter, too-soft dough), timing is everything. Ordinarily I'm a patient person who lives in the moment of such a process. This was not the case the other day when I had a deadline to meet.
Fast forward to the decorating party at church. I arrived with my heart-shaped cookies (don't they look fab?), our stand mixer and the ingredients to make the much discussed royal icing for decorating. Yes, that should have been prepared at home beforehand, but read above about deadlines. The cookies themselves were barely out of the oven! Anyway, I set up shop in the church kitchen and got busy. Egg whites were in the bowl ready to go. Oops, forgot the vanilla extract! Meh. Move on. I start up the mixer and watch the eggs begin to foam. Great excitement! I realize that the bowl is in the wrong position so I turn off the mixer and shift the bowl. Turn the mixer back on and it won't engage past speed one. Long story short: the motor is burning out. Great. No icing.
I'm the only one who brought heart-shaped cookies so I decide to leave those for further pursuit at a later time and join the decorating party in progress.
Fast forward again. The decorating party was on Friday. Once home from that event my day was full with other tidbits to address. Saturday we had our vestry retreat. Sunday was, well, typical: church, nap, grogginess, Olympics. The cookies are still in the container and, discouraged that I have missed the event, I decide to put them in the freezer and deal with them later. Monday dawns: a new day! let's try to make the icing using the hand mixer and pack up the decorated cookies to send out on Tuesday!
At a certain critical point the recipe for the icing reads: "Beat at high speed until the icing forms stiff, shiny peaks. This should take 5 - 7 minutes." Thirty minutes later I still didn't have stiff, shiny peaks. The hand mixer lacks the power to puff this baby into peaks. Despair! The project is a bust! My life is ruined!
I take a time out and work on the Sunday Times Crossword Puzzle.
Later I return to the kitchen and play with the icing still sitting in the bowl. What the heck. Let's decorate with what we've got! And so I did.