Monday, 25 July 2011

Communal Baking #1

Last week a friend and I were casually talking about macaroons, the difficulty in finding good ones and the even greater difficulty in making them. I suggested Alexander’s macaroons to her noting that ever since I introduced these macaroons to my mum, she has been madly baking the tiny goodies in an attempt to find the secret to the perfect macaroon.  Really, they have taken over her life, when you think about it, they are actually quite dangerous! We also decided it might be fun to attempt to make some of our own and see how we would go with them.

A few days later I was flicking through a recipe magazine and, there before was a shiny new recipe for…yep, you guessed it! I forwarded the recipe to said friend (aka Lena) who happened, at that very moment, to be standing in front of a three tear masterpiece of a cake covered in non other but macaroons! 
At this stage I need to point out there is something very odd about my life style that, while most of the time brings me great joy, it also on occasion, makes me kick myself in utter frustration.
I don’t have a TV.
I haven’t had one for over four years.

It’s a story i'll save for another time, but what I will say is this; I don’t watch master chef so I can say this with a completely clean conscience, I came upon a fascination of macaroons entirely of my own accord. I can also say, because I don’t have a TV that I had no idea there was a food festival in town and therefore completely missed, not only the entire festival, (Kick!)  but the enormous macaroon cake tower!

However my heart was soothed when dear Lena suggested we come together to try and attempt such a cake.

A date was set and ..."oh Bev is coming too”, great! I love communal baking! Ingredients were divvied up, I was to bring the macaroon requirements, Lena the cake and Bev, lunch. Then Kate caught wind and well, what is cake baking without Kate? She brought her much needed cake icing tool belt. Then Stef came with Bev and there we were, five of us, all crammed into my little apartment sized kitchen. Communal baking indeed!

It wasn’t like there wasn’t enough to do. I had brought some macaroon pre-mix packets that I was assured by my mother would be a great back up if the recipe I found did not pan out. So that was two batches of macaroons on the 'to-bake' list.  Then Lena (as only Lena would) decided, 'what’s one cake without having another cake to eat whilst we were making the main cake?' So there was another ‘side cake’ to bake as well. So while we settled at a two tear cake we had the equivalent of three cakes (two butter, one citrus) and two large batches of macaroons (almond chocolate and lavender).  Thankfully I also have a decent sized dinning room table which served us very well.

You know it’s times like these success doesn’t really matter. I myself, am never one to shy away from kitchen failure. The macaroons, (both batches) turned out more like chewy biscotti and the two-tear cake was unfortunately more like a two-tear pancake stack (someone, I sharn’t blame anyone by name, forgot that doubling the recipe might be a better option than splitting the one quantity between two cake tins. Although in the midst of the pandemonium that was my kitchen, I’m not surprised such a mistake was made). However the citrus cake was quite the success and was muchly enjoyed at lunch with ‘Rose and vanilla tea’ (thank you Lena for getting us all hooked)

The macaroons could be mastered another time….(and will be) and cakes can be re-baked with quantities doubled. But somewhere in the chaos, there was a pleasant satisfaction. May be it’s just me and my love of homes that a bustle with noise and colour and laughter and for a moment that’s what my quiet little nook had been transformed into. A little more than perhaps my fellow house mates were up for though, my husband and the couple currently residing with us started out in downstairs community, but one by one retreated to the safety of the bedrooms upstairs. Sorry guys.

There is one more thing. Apparently communal baking is an exciting thing to people. I couldn’t believe how quickly what I thought was two of us, turned into five of us, on top of which I was making a very direct effort not to mention to anyone else because the idea of it lit up people eyes and I didn’t want to feel obliged to invite more. I felt it could have easily turned into eight or nine the way we were picking up people.
Gives one ideas doesn’t it.

Till next time..

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