Friday, November 6, 2009
Have you ever had a recipe not turn out the way you'd hoped? I've been baking since I was about nine years old, and I've had my share of adventures. There was the time that I accidentally made pink oatmeal cookies that one of my brothers loves to bring up. (Is it my fault the red food coloring and the vanilla looked the same?) He says his friends at school still thought they tasted good, so all was not lost.
Many of my mishaps have been because I had oven complications, like not being familiar with a new oven, electric over gas, or glass instead of metal. These things happen.
So for Halloween, I decided that I wanted to make pumpkin bread to take to my sister-in-law's house where we were going for dinner and trick-or-treating. I don't remember ever making it before, even though I love it, and I couldn't find my Mama's recipe. Unfortunately, she wasn't sure where her recipe was either, so I decided to look online for a new one. I found several but most of them didn't call for any spice and I felt like there should at least be cinnamon and nutmeg.
Finally, I found a recipe called Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread. I don't know a lot about Maine, but since I discovered SouleMama it has a romantic draw for me, so I thought I'd give it a shot. The recipe called for all of the spices I thought it should have (cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg). There were a lot of good reviews. I had all the ingredients. I was set.
My first mistake was in not printing the recipe. Instead, I kept crossing the kitchen to check the recipe from my laptop. My second mistake was not waiting until my husband got home from work. Baking with a recipe I'm familiar with can be challenging when Abigail wants my attention - a recipe I've never used before was giving me fits. Then I couldn't remember where we'd put our ground ginger or the whole nutmeg. Finally I located those in the very top and back of our baking cabinet. Then I realized that we only have glass bread pans, not metal ones. And the recipe calls for 3 small pans and I only had two large ones. Then I only greased the pan before adding the batter instead of greasing and flouring.
The recipe calls for the bread to be baked for 50 minutes or until done by the knife test. After 50 minutes, I remembered (was reminded, actually) that if you use glass pans, you should lower the temperature and bake longer. So I lowered the temp and kept checking. For another half hour. Finally, the bread seemed like it might be done and I took it out.
When I cut into it, the bread seemed more like a pudding than a bread. It was so dense and thick. It didn't have the light, airy texture I was expecting at all. Oh well, I thought, a bum recipe. Better luck next time. I made some ginger cream cheese to top the bread and all was well.
Over the next few days, I thought about my mistake. Next time, I could use a different recipe (Alton Brown's looks good, but calls for fresh pumpkin). Maybe I could use a bundt pan instead of bread pans. Fresh ginger instead of ground might be nice (or both). I had used Saigon cinnamon (which is hot like cinnamon candy) but the flavor didn't come through, maybe I could use more of that. I just knew a different recipe would have the bread texture I was looking for.
On Monday, I stopped by the neighborhood grocery on the way home from sewing group to pick up some milk, and decided to grab another can of pumpkin so I could try again. That's when I noticed.
When I was buying my ingredients before Halloween, I knew I needed 15 ounces of pumpkin. It sounded like a lot, so I grabbed the largest can. On Monday when I was buying more, I actually looked at the can. The large can has about 29 ounces of pumpkin.
That's right. I used a 29 ounce can of pumpkin for a recipe that called for 15 ounces. None of my excuses worked anymore. It was just flat out careless of me. How I've managed to buy canned fruit for pies all this time, I don't know. Maybe I usually look? At least now I know why my bread was a pudding.
Extra pumpkin makes it more healthy though, right? Right?
(edited to add: This post is for the prompt for day four of Blogging for Scrapbookers, although I probably would have shared this story anyway.)