Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Culinary adventures

Yesterday, I had Presidents Day off work. Before he left for school, Hulk made me promise that I would do something fun and wouldn't just spend the day cleaning or organizing the one room in the house that didn't get scrubbed this weekend (the Spare Oom.)I assured him that I would indeed do something just for myself. I had been kicking around the idea of making a King's cake in honor of Fat Tuesday, courtesy QIR. So on Monday afternoon, I went to the grocery store and got a few things to ensure I had what I needed for the recipe she posted. I've never made a brioche-type pastry, but I have made bread, so I thought it woudn't be too terribly difficult. I also decide to keep a photographic record so I could share it with you, my loyal readers.

The first thing I had to do was proof the yeast. While it was unusually warm outside(over 50 degrees!), Hulk has had a bitch of a time getting pizza dough to rise this winter and so I knew I had to figure out some way to keep the yeast (and, later, dough) warm enough to rise twice. Making a trip around the house, I determined the warmest spot, once I turned the heater on (it's climate-controlled to be 60F during the day when we're out of the house, but noplace in the house was warm enough for rising dough without some heat).

The warmest spot turned out to be the bathroom.

I even wrapped the bowl in a towel after I took the picture, to ensure maximum warmth.

After the yeast had gotten all nice and bubbly, I returned the bowl to the kitchen and brought my laptop with the recipe all uploaded. You can see it here balanced on our rice canisters, with the gingerbread from Sunday night peeking out, and a nice dusting of flour on the laptop.

I mixed the dough and kneaded it for a few minutes as called for in the recipe. I didn't halve the nutmeg called for in the recipe.

(You can also see the lime left over from making rum and coke for Hulk's dad on Sunday night.)

After I put the ball in a greased bowl and set it in the bathroom to rise for an hour and a half, I read a book for a while and took a nap. Loki also took a nap. He had a very stressful day of napping, actually.

Awaking in kind of a panic (since I'd forgotten to set an alarm), I saw a slightly over-risen dough and punched it into submission. I twisted and twisted it like QIR had said to do, and stuck it back in the bathroom covered in a towel to rise for another 45 minutes. (I didn't have a lemon to zest, but I did have an orange, so I used that instead - hence the orangey stripes in the risen dough.)

As with most baked goods in Colorado, I stuck it in the oven and set the timer for 5 minutes shorter than the shortest time called for, and when I checked it was beautifully browned.

I had to wait until today to finish the cake, since I was also planning a Chinese New Year meal and had to stop cake-making to start prepping the stir fry. (It turned out really good, btw.) Today, I took the cake out of its protestive plastic (the dry air here is murder on both skin and baked goods) and iced it.

The recipe said to sprinkle with colored sugar immediately after icing, so I had to color the sugar first thing. The green was OK, but I was missing yellow food coloring so I made do with raw sugar for the "yellow." Also, for some reason, I could not get the purple sugar to turn purple. It turned out to be a sort of a sickly ugly red. But I tried really hard.

Then, I made the icing with powdered sugar, lemonade, lemon juice, and a skosh of water. It looked like jizz.

And here's the final product. QIR, I bet it's far uglier than any king's cake you've made, but at least I tried, right?

Tomorrow: the story of the surprising new neighbor and how we went out clog dancing with gay boys tonight.


-qir said...

There is nothing ugly about homemade love, I mean baked goods.

(Ok, yes we all know at least one person who fancies themselves competent in the kitchen, but who regularly manages to burn cookie dough from a tube.)

But actually, sickly red sugar aside, I think your brioche came out beautifully! If I'd but known you were going to tackle a king cake I'd have sent you some of my sugar. Goodness knows I have a lifetime's worth.

-qir said...

ps - you at least got a ring shape and proper brioche on the first try. It took me three times just to get that far. So - far uglier? No way, dollface. I gotcha beat by a mile there.

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

I'm terrible at baking so I'm exceedingly impressed at that picture of it all browned.

What does it taste like? A croissant?

MLE said...

Yes, it's kind of like a sweet, nutmeg-y croissant with citrusy notes (from the zest and icing).

-qir said...

Good call on the orange zest by the way. I think that if I make some of that dough up (not a kings cake, now that's it's officially lent) that I might try a mix of meyer lemon zest and orange or some sort of mandarin zest. Will post details.