Bombing Baking

So baking is who I am, or who I was.

When S and I went to our labor preparation class before L was born, the instructor told us to go to a place in the house where we relax or imagine a scene that brought us peace.

Internally, I started to freak out. I don’t really relax. I couldn’t think of a single place in that moment that was my escape. Without missing a beat, S leaned over and simply stated, “Okay, I guess that means you will have to bake when you go into labor.”

And bake I did (after working for as long as I could sit). It is all a blur really, but I do remember S telling me to go make cookies and me getting the dough rolled into balls and onto the cookie sheets before I had to hand it over to my mom.

Baking used to be my escape.

I know that ingredients vary from country to country, but after baking in Egypt with a broken stove and improvised utensils I felt like I was pretty much ready for everything, especially since this time I shipped my entire kitchen abroad and splurged on a convection oven.

WRONG.

My baking here has been a disaster. My cookies are running all over and then they taste soggy. Nothing is chewy.  I have tried cooling the butter, chilling the dough, adjusting the flour, and nothing is working.

Now is the point where S will interject and say that he remembers a time in Egypt, shortly after we met, when I tried to woo him with my baking skills. I attempted to make caramel topped cinnamon rolls in a heart pan that one of my roommates left in our apartment. Without corn syrup or a candy thermometer it all started to go downhill and S was less than impressed. The caramel hardened into concrete and S asked if it was a wall decoration.

That aside, tomorrow is my birthday and as inspired as I was trying to be to make a cake, I can’t find it in me to face another baking disaster, or find the perfect recipe, and then try to find all the ingredients. Things have gotten so bad I actually bought a cookie at a coffee shop last week hoping that it would taste terrible and reassure me that my recent kitchen failures are not my own, but Brazil’s.  Well, now I can tell you that they are indeed mine.

So what is it that is so different here? It hasn’t been that hot. I am buying “manteiga extra“, which is supposed to be the top quality butter even if I do think it has an odd taste. The brown sugar seems twice as sweet than what I am used to but I have stopped packing it in and that seems to help on the taste. I imported vanilla from Mexico.  All my experimenting is depleting my supply of imported chocolate chips.

As embarrassed as I am to post my chocolate chip cookie photo, I am in need of advice on this one. S’s family is coming next week and I really do want to make some kind of sweet.  I have to. 

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If I don’t, they will be worried something has gone completely wrong with me.