Adventures in Baking

Chocolate-Pumpkin Brownies

I made these!  And they didn’t suck!

OK, that’s a blatant lie; I didn’t make them.  I read the instructions aloud to my mother and she made them.

If only all baking involved me just telling other people what to do – I’d do it a lot more often.

However while instructing my mom on how to make the brownies, I had an epiphany: I’m much too much a perfectionist to be a good baker.

As “we” were making the pumpkin batter, I told my mom to mix the pumpkin puree, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger to the mixture that “we” had already prepared.  “My cooking instructor says to always double the spices when cooking with pumpkin,” my mother informed me.  I watched in horror as she scooped in not the allotted 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and ginger each, but an entire FULL teaspoon of the spices.

“Mom!” I gasped, “That is not what the recipe calls for!”

“Diana,” she replied, casting me a who-do-you-think-I-am look, “Who has been baking for 40+ years?”

Touché.  I decided to let this indiscretion go.

But then there was the sifting incident.  At one point the recipe called for sifted flour.  To my dismay, my mom showed blatant disregard for this instruction.  “You don’t really need to sift,” she said, flicking spoonfuls of flour into the batter.  “This works just fine.”

“Mom, I am not comfortable with this.  It specifically says to sift!  Why aren’t you sifting!?”  Sensing my panic, my mom obliged and sifted.  Although she could have also  sifted only because I had never sifted before and it is highly likely she felt compelled to demonstrate this baking technique lest she have another reason to feel she failed me as a mother.  Her grown daughter not knowing what sifting is?  The tragedy!

That momentarily quelled my panic at my mom’s reckless approach to this recipe.  But as it came time to pour the batter into the pan, I noticed that there were some significant chunks of flour that had not been stirred in properly.  I pointed this out to my mother, who once again dismissed my concern.

She was ruining my brownies!  After I worked so hard telling her how to make them!

At this point I was too wearied to argue anymore.  I left my brownies to fate.  30-40 minutes later, the brownies were ready.  I had already resigned myself to their ruin, but in fact, they were delicious.  Moist, chocolate-y, a perfect fall treat – I’d highly recommend them.  (Just FYI, the brownies have just a hint of the pumpkin flavor.  I could have used more, but they were still very good.)

Perhaps I had been a tad over-zealous in my commitment to the recipe as written.  Perhaps I should have trusted my experienced-baker mother.  Perhaps.

Or perhaps if only reading recipe instructions proves too stressful to execute, I should stay away from baking for now.

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