today, i baked.
it was a big deal for four reasons, one of which you likely know already. on the off chance that you don't, i'll illustrate: i believe i turned on the oven in rachel's and my new york apartment once for every year we lived there, and on one of those occasions it was to stick onion slices on a cookie tray, making the place smell like i'd actually cooked something.
i once had a recipe for banana bread memorized, but that didn't last much longer than a summer's time span. i adore baked desserts, and i especially adore them when they result from someone else's mixing and measuring. working in a school where the chocolate chip cookies--served sometimes at lunch and at all manner of faculty meetings--tasted like something for which santa claus would consider having another christmas in july, the only reason i might have had to bake was to get gratuitously, incredibly fat. taking into account my new york vanity, that just wouldn't do. so i didn't bake.
in new york, we had a gas oven. we have one here, too. but as i lit the oven's pilot light, it occurred to me that our tank of gas was probably running really low. stepping into the patio and gave it a light push, my suspicions were confirmed; we'll probably be flagging down the gas truck in the morning for a thirty kilo replacement. the decision came down to brownies or a hot shower later. i already had the eggs and oil lined up on the counter. the shower, this time, would simply have to wait.
our oven is also a bit bullheaded, if you'll permit me the anthropomorphism. i can calculate fahrenheit to celsius down to the last little degree, but the oven always has its own agenda: hot. a thermometer is perpetually perched on the rack inside, but baking requires constantly monitoring its tiny needle, alternately opening the oven door and turning down the temperature to keep it at a steady 350.
so there they are, the first three reasons. i'll let you judge their capacity to daunt. the fourth, though, would give pause to all but the most oven-loving folk i know.
they're everywhere, lined with one after another leavened delight. and those muffins and danishes and donuts and twists are unbelievably cheap. just up the hill from our house, we have two perfect examples offering big, delicious bites for about thirty cents apiece. it's enough to make any amateur baker throw in the oven mitt and head out the door. arriving back home in ten minutes with a bag full of assorted carbohydrate delights is no small temptation for a lazy baker with little gas and an oven given over to hot flashes.
the good news, for me, is that i'm not alone in this; very few people bake at home here. i know this because finding measuring cups and spoons in a store can often become a shopping odyssey. muffin tins? only in specialty shops, along with the rare and coveted chips of chocolate. it ocurred to me a possible reason why the santa claus thing didn't catch on too quickly: no one wanted to make cookies for his chimney shimmying, midnight trip.
i have yet to meet a friend who uses the oven for something other than storing pots and pans, or to ripen a hard avocado. why bake when the corner bakery can do it for you?
still, i've yet to see a brownie or a chocolate chip cookie among the bakeries' daily offerings, so i decided to try my hand at both. and they slid out of the oven so mouth-wateringly good that if we don't start giving them away, both patricio and i will run the risk of becoming gratuitously, incredibly fat. i suppose it's a good thing i have a number of reasons not to bake. but tonight, we're going to indulge like santa claus on his sleigh-ride of christmas eve.