A baker, I am not.
Which is a shame, because I’ve always wanted to be one of “those” moms. The mom who makes beautiful cakes, cookies and brownies from scratch that are the envy of every man, woman and child at the PTA bake sale.
Now, I can cook pretty darn well. I regularly search out new recipes to try and find it relaxing to tweak and season until I reach perfection. But when it comes to baking, I stick to box mixes, however, even those are not safe and I’ve made a few awful cakes in my day.
But now that I’m a stay at home mom, I decided that 2017 would be my year. The year I finally honed my baking skills. No more box mixes here! Look out pastry chefs, here comes Jessica!
I started off slow with my bread machine. I mean, all you do is toss in ingredients and the machine does the rest, how hard could it be?
I had a few mishaps (pro tip, check the expiration date on your yeast), but soon mastered making any type of bread in the cookbook that came with my machine.
Next, I tackled making bread from scratch. It actually wasn’t bad. Kneading the dough was a great way to get out my frustration, and bread making was a fun nap time activity.
The I decided to get ambitious and try to make Guinness infused brownies for St. Patrick’s Day. I was already making corned beef, potato leek soup, rye bread and Irish soda bread. And I’ve been binge watching The Great British Bake Off, so I knew all the baking words like “prove” and I felt like I’ve been coached by Mary Berry herself. What could possibly go wrong?
I found a simple recipe online (thanks Google!) and gathered my ingredients.
Things quickly went pear shaped (I love how the bakers on GBBO say that things went to hell).
Hm…this recipe calls for 12 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips and I have about 7 ounces of milk chocolate…meh, close enough.
I can see Paul Hollywood giving me an incredulous look now.
Hey Paul, I’m not one of the amateurs on your show. I’ve got this.
I reduced the Guinness, melted down the chocolate and butter, whisked together the sugar, eggs and vanilla and added the flour. I stuck my finger in to give it a little taste.
Yuck! Tooth achingly sweet. Must be the milk chocolate. Eh. I have some unsweetened cocoa powder I can use.
So I added the two teaspoons of cocoa and it evened out the flavor a bit.
At that point my two year old wandered into to the kitchen asking what I was doing. He loves to sample my cooking, so I thought he would enjoy a little taste of my brownies.
He took one look at the bowl, yelled “No mommy!” and ran from the kitchen.
I should have taken that as a sign.
After baking for 45 minutes, I pulled out my brownies, excited to try one. I let them cool and finally bit into my creation.
A brownie should not be crunchy. These were over baked. And still way too sweet.
I offered my toddler one. Even to my toddler, who likes to try and eat popcorn out of the trash can, these brownies were crap.
The only supportive person in my house willing to eat these brownies? My husband. But he’s eaten MRE’s, so he’ll eat anything.
Maybe I won’t be crowned Star Baker anytime soon.
But I won’t let this be my Waterloo. I’ll eventually get back on the proverbial horse.
In the meantime, you can find me on the couch. with my wine and burnt brownies waiting for Paul to call me up to guest judge the Great British Bake Off.