March 31st, 2023
As you can clearly see, I've been on a little bit of a baking binge lately. I've made, three batches of biscuits, a loaf of bread, a cake and some muffins all in just a a two week period! Well that is clearly insane. Or something.
I won't deny that I am at least a little bit whacky sometimes, but I truly don't believe I'm straight up crazy. There really is an explanation. And it has more to do with me being frugal. I was going to say cheap but Tim really hates it when I say I'm cheap. Negative connotations and all that.
It started two weeks ago when Tim and I were talking about favourite foods and he mentioned that while he does love chocolate cake, one of his favourites is yellow cake with chocolate frosting. And I agreed that is a dandy treat indeed. I went on to say that I have never really found a yellow cake (scratch cake not box cake) recipe that I loved but admitted that I hadn't researched it in awhile.
And that is what started the whole thing. The recipe I eventually landed on required two things I do not usually have on hand, cake flour and buttermilk. I rarely make things that need specialty ingredients because usually I only use them for the one recipe and then far down the line end up throwing it out and wondering why I have it in the pantry in the first place. But cake flour, sure, I can use again and it has a decent shelf life. Buttermilk is versatile but it needs to be used fairly quickly. I knew that if I committed to buying buttermilk, I would also be committing to doing a lot of baking. Okay, I can do that.
So off we went to our local Publix. We found the cake flour with no problem but there was no buttermilk in the milk section. Dang. There happened to be a worker nearby and Tim asked about the missing buttermilk and he said that there would be a new shipment in a few days. Dang. I said, "I guess no cake then" :( I had been so jazzed to try a new recipe and now I was disappointed. Tim said, "There is more than one store around here y'know" And hope bloomed within me once again.
We headed out to a different Publix (they seem to be every few blocks down here) and nope, they didn't have it either! Dang again! What the actual heck? Now it was a mission! Luckily there were other places to look, other Publix for one things, but also Walmart, Target, Aldi's aaaannnddd Win-Dixie. We were determined.
We hit paydirt at Win-Dixie ! Taadaa! Finally Buttermilk. Who knew that buttermilk was such a hot property? I had only one issue with it. I was expecting a small container. I only need a cup afterall. And I've seen buttermilk sold in smaller containers: pints, quarts. But nope, all they had was a half gallon. Which as a specialty baking ingredient is a lot of buttermilk.
The next day I jumped in and began. The new yellow cake recipe was a little more complex than most cake recipes and I get excited about making something new. I read it through multiple times, gathered all my ingredients, including the 3 cake pans. Yes, this was a three layer cake! I was giddy with excitement truth be known.
While it was cooling, I made the milk chocolate frosting which turned out so great it was tempting to just eat it with a spoon but nope, I held myself in check and frosted the cake and it looked, as they say, good enough to eat! It was bad, I didn't bother to take a picture so I dont' have one to share ;(
Crushing disappointment. The taste of the cake was just...okay. Not worth the calories. Ratz. The frosting was excellent the cake was meh. Bah. I don't eat bad food and I don't serve bad food. I threw it away. Seriously, gave it the old heave-ho!
On the other hand, the buttermilk bread, the buttermilk cake and buttermilk biscuits (all three batches) and the chocolate chip muffins (made with buttermilk) were rock solid hits! And just so's you know, the biscuits were the only thing I'd ever made before. Honestly, I could make biscuits in my sleep. But the bread, the cake and the muffins were all brand new recipes that turned out so good they are now permanent additions to my baking arsenal.
We have eaten pretty darned well these past couple of weeks and it's all thanks to a terrible recipe that required an ingredient I do not usually have. Clearly I need to experiment more often and take more chances. The half gallon of buttermilk is long gone but the luscious food memories it helped to create will linger for a long, long time.
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Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.