Fix The Fuck Up: Balance Of The Force
Editors Note: So clearly by creating a series called FRIDAY FUCK-UPS, we’ve acknowledged the fact that this blog is about the creation of food and not the perfection of food. But, we’re come a long way since our early days of just messing around on the stove top and have acquired some serious food talent. Here’s CCC and her explanation on why gansie can’t bake for shit. If you’d like to read the fuck-up, click here for the original blondie recipe.
There are two kinds of people in the world, those who can bake, and those whom baking hates.
Baking, unlike cooking, is a lot like math; it’s all about proportions and balance and equal sums. Cooking is more like poetry or music; there’s a structure that should be followed, but there’s a lot more wiggle room for improvisation and last-minute additions than baking. When you’re cooking a casserole or a pot roast or just mucking around with a sandwich, you can always add stuff here and there, dilute and reduce, taste and re-season. But when you’re baking, it’s live or die. Once your cake or pie goes in the oven, it’s boarded a one-way time train to the future, and when it comes out, it’s either spot-on or sudden death. Yoda summed it up nicely when he philosophized, “Do or do not, there is no try.”
In the case of Gansie’s recent fuck up, it’s a matter of balance. Substitutions are just as workable in baking as they are in cooking, but it’s important that the proportions be taken into consideration. If an ingredient is removed or reduced, there has to be compensation somewhere else, or the whole mix can be thrown out of whack.
Gansie swapped out the nuts called for in Nigella’s orginal White Chocolate and Macadamia Brownies recipe with regular chocolate chips and ended up with soup. My guess is that the nuts were there to provide structural integrity, something for the batter to grab onto and climb up on; like rebar in concrete. Just leaving out the nuts may have doomed the recipe, but substituting chocolate chips also probably added too much extra moisture for the recipe’s requisite amount of flour to handle.
The resulting batter never came together in the oven. Like Anakin Skywalker in Revenge Of The Sith, the chocolate chips drove a wedge between the light and dark sides of the Force, where using nuts might have restored balance to the galaxy.
Oh, nice one, Gansie! You just plunged this entire sector of space into civil war!
So, what’s the fix? Adding an additional amount of texture would compensate for the extra moisture and help promote thickening. A proportionate amount of coarse flour like whole wheat or corn meal would work, as would rolled oats, puffed rice, or, believe it or not, Grape-Nuts, if you wanted to switch it up a bit.
Then again, there are times when the stars are simply just not aligned in favor of baking. As much as baking is like math it’s also equal parts skill, dumb luck, and environment. Kitchens get dry or humid with the weather, ovens are cantankerous, flours settle and don’t measure properly, etc.
In short, when your baking comes out all fucked up, it’s not necessarily you who’s the fuck-up. Sometimes baking is just inherently fucked.