Who could have ever expected we would have a flour shortage in this world these days? Who would have ever expected I would be sitting here writing about it? This week's chemistry in the kitchen experiments required a lot of substituting and flour was the main topic.
Country White Bread With Honey & Coconut Oil
What American kid growing up in the 80s and 90s didn't have cinnamon sugar toast on white bread for breakfast before school? I was no different. Since moving to India, I had not really eaten bread, so this actually came as a rare little treat of nostalgia for me. However I did throw a little modern grown-up flair to it.
Outcome: I loved it so much I had it 4 days last week for breakfast. Same way every time. I really like the coconut oil honey combo.
The Epic Fail of The Pancake
Now after that boring little commentary on toasted bread, allow me to entertain you with an epic fail of the week. This one will go into the book of classics for me. How bad could it be you might ask? Let's start from the beginning...
I take a lot of pride in my pancakes. Those who have eaten them always come back for more. It is one thing people actually ask me to make for them. I even have a shirt which says Pancake Master. The expectations were pretty high on this experiment.
There is a lot that goes into my pancakes, however the base has always been since a kid, Bisquick. This is something which is damn near impossible to find anywhere in the world outside of America. Yes, I bring boxes of it back to India every trip I make. But after talking to my sister and hearing how easy it is to make homemade bisquick, I was open to giving it a shot and seeing what amazing goodness I could create.
Let's start with the list of substitutions which lead to this epic ego blow...
We all make do with what we have access to and I knew already it wasn't going to taste 'perfect'. But I really thought I had potential to create something better. I didn't. Instead I gave myself a stomach ache.
I feel at this point you need to watch the slideshow experience, rather than me write about it.
*Some photo notes to observe: The moment I realised coconut flour sucks up liquid. When I got dough instead of batter. When my pancake essentially turned into coconut upma.
Outcome: This Pancake Master Epically FAILED. Pancakes being the only thing in the kitchen which I am confident about, my ego was totally crushed.
My brain works like a tubelight in the kitchen. Just now as I see the dough photo and it dawns on me, "could I have made scones out of this?" As soon as I got dough I knew my pancakes were going to be a fail. Could I have salvaged this concoction from the wreckage I was creating? ...After a quick google, it may have actually worked. But I won't be trying this ever again. I won't even look up a special recipe which specifically uses coconut flour for pancakes. I am sure the homemade Bisquick recipe would have worked had I followed it perfectly, but I didn't.
The mess was thankfully easy to clean since I didn't burn anything and I managed to make a flawless Nespresso coffee afterwards. Nothing like Nespresso to boost your confidence on making a perfect Americano (which yes, I have ruined those before too).
Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies
It is ashamed the rest of the world doesn't appreciate peanut butter like the Americans. But this could work to my advantage if I am the only one else ends up loving these golden chewy bites of yumminess here at the house.
By now you know I also love oatmeal. So after a go at Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies which were a total hit, I thought I would take a stab at Oatmeal Peanut Butter, and because chocolate chips are actually bottom of my like list. And let's face it, I needed a solid comeback from that pancake debacle.
So I started with my typical search for the perfect recipe with high flavour and chewiness ratings. We have established I am not strong enough in the kitchen to do much substituting, but given the flour situation I was once again forced think outside the box again.
CONCLUSION: These could quite possibly be the best cookies I have ever made. I believe the slight deviations from the original recipe actually made them better than intended. For a bunch of people who don't like peanut butter, they loved them. This is one I would definitely make again and make my way.
You win some and you loose some. Sometimes you end up playing a football match and tie. I feel like I accomplished the latter. This woman knows her place in the kitchen...which is to stay out of the kitchen! But I will continue to play around while we are stuck in this lockdown and contribute to our flour shortage. At least I know when I step inside the kitchen, there is always potential for a good laugh. That makes it worth it.
Never will I call myself Julia Childs. Hell, I have burnt spaghetti noodles on more than one occasion. I have wiped sauces from the ceilings, had explosions in the refrigerator, scraped the burnt topping off many food items. When I lived in town I never even hooked up the gas in my flat and at one point I was Swiggy's number one food delivery client in Bombay. I could go on and on, but you get my point; I'm no Julia Childs.
Had I been placed into quarantine in my home in Bombay you might find me writing food delivery reviews or doing the extreme opposite by scavenging my kitchen for anything eatable and posting photos asking if it could be eaten raw or not. But thankfully I am not stuck to survive on my own and have a good set-up where I am being fed regularly and fed very well. However, there are days where I have found myself venturing into the kitchen to entertain myself with performing chemistry experiments by baking. Baking is chemistry and anyone can follow a set of directions, right?
I have managed three recipes so far in the baking department.
I don't think there is one special recipe over the other on this drink. But I could be wrong. Likely I am. I am no Julia Childs.
Outcome: By the end of this lockdown I will be a fully qualified barista. I can make froth and foam, coffees hot and cold. I have also learned to make espressos and americano's that don't come from a Nespresso machine!
Outcome: I would love to try this recipe again with the modifications of milk, flour, and more banana. I loved how moist it came out and everyone who tried it actually loved the flavour, I am just determined to make it better and master this damn oven no one has been able to bake properly from yet.
The Best Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever!
I have never in my life baked a cookie so perfectly before! I must give credit though, because I probably would not have if there weren't three of us doing this baking experiment together. These were the most amazing oatmeal chocolate chip cookies I have ever had. We put a big effort into this kitchen project. From chilling times to convection or not decisions, proper moisture ratio, mixing and folding of the ingredients and the chilling of the baked cookie; we went all out.
I started with researching recipes and I found the highest rated recipe which had been posted only 3 days previous and had a 5.0 rating. (Apparently this chick Averie is good. The recipe already has over 10k likes). I presented the recipe and we all agreed to give it a shot and this what I can say about it...
Outcome: We will be making more. We are itching to make more, but don't want to go overboard by making cookies our staple survival meal. The recipe is perfect on every level and not to be adulterated.
Because I don't have an oven in my own home in Bombay, baking right now has been a novelty. I am certain I will not be immediately purchasing an oven as soon as I am allowed to go home either. However I am delighted with the results of my baking experiments so far: one perfect success, one which needs a little revising and the other you can't really go wrong. It has given me a little bit more confidence around the kitchen and I will continue to play around, have some fun and contribute to the flour shortage the world now has. On that note, be well and...Bon Appétit!