Monday, December 27, 2010

Checking in with Culinary Resolutions of 2010

Hummingbird Cake
Back on January 2nd of 2010, I decided to make culinary resolutions for the year. I figured with the amount of time I spend in the kitchen, and the fact that I love baking, would mean that finally I would be making resolution I could keep!

Wrong! So wrong! Well, at least not all of them. I have listed the original goal in italics and discussed whether or not I followed through, and if so, how.

1. Make the third of the laminate doughs. I have made danish pastry (twice, actually) as well as puff pastry. 2010 will be the year I tackle croissants!
I am proud to say that I actually made croissants in 2010, and they were a huge success! After making puff pastry I swore I never would again, but croissants would be a pleasure. The only problem is, they are best fresh, and a person can only eat so many! And that's more than that person (ahem) should be eating....

2. Bread baking - I was given The Bread Baker's Apprentice for Christmas and I am so excited to get started. Looking back on several Daring Bakers Challenges, I have made his lavash, pizza dough (I make this all the time now!), and sticky buns. I'm looking forward to spending more energy learning about savory, non-sweet, yeast breads.
Other than pizza dough, I failed on this resolution. Pizza dough doesn't count to me because I've made it before for a Daring Baker Challenge, and continue to make that recipe frequently, as it was perfect. Not too long ago I made pizza dough from a different recipe that was the final straw for my mixer. I've made several sweet yeasty things, but that was not the resolution.

3. Cake decorating - I need to buy my own decorating supplies, or get my Mom to send me my old stuff from back when I first took the Wilton classes. I made marshmallow fondant in 2009, but I want to tackle the more standard stuff. I also want to try modeling chocolate. I have no aspirations to become a cake decorator, since technically I used to work as one in a bakery without all the fancy stuff, but I definitely feel I have a lot to learn!
Well, um, my Mom sent me my cake decorating supplies in November, and that is as far as I really got. I did get inspired to do some chocolate work as a cake decoration, a fairly easy technique that I tried again for a baby shower. Otherwise, I seemed to make cakes that didn't need decoration. I made cakes, okay? Just not pretty ones. There was the mocha study day cake, my diva chocolate cake for my birthday, Racines Cake from David Lebovitz's new cookbook, and many others. Full confession - I've had my old cake decorating supplies plus another box of pans of all shapes for two months and they remain unopened. Guess what is going on next year's list!?

4. Trifle. I have a beautiful trifle dish that has never been used. Shameful!
Yeah. Still shameful. I had every intention (even every ingredient) to make pumpkin gingerbread trifle for Christmas, but by the time we got there, after cookies and candy and stollen and birthday cake, I just couldn't face any more sweet stuff. Someday....

5. To be intentional about seasonal ingredients. Horror of horrors - last year I skipped both the peach and apple seasons in my area, which are possibly the best fruits coming out of southern North Carolina and northern South Carolina. Really, no excuse. :)
This year was the first year I had a garden, so I had seasonal ingredients up to my eyeballs, but not a lot to bake with (until I get more into savory baking, see #2).

However I still managed to do a good lot of baking with seasonal ingredients. My rhubarb fling included strawberry rhubarb pie and a rhubarb tart, but my raspberries that started out so promising were completely devoured by Japanese beetles, as were most of my strawberries.

July saw blueberries (some from my own garden) being made into crumb cake and breakfast cake. I did manage to throw my own herbs into a sweet/savory sweet potato pie.

During Apple season, I actually went to two different apple orchards around the Hendersonville, NC region. Part of the trouble is I often repeat recipes I have always made, and didn't photograph everything. I made my Grandma's apple cake recipe, crock pot apple sauce, and then did manage a few new things - caramel apple cake, Nick Malgieri's Breton Apple Pie (so pretty), and a Torta di Mele for the November Daring Bakers Challenge. I did discover in all of this that I have a new favorite baking apple - the mutsu! It is firm like Granny Smith but not as tart, and I adore it. So despite my apparent bypassing of peach season yet again, I feel like I accomplished this culinary resolution fairly well.

Despite my failings, I feel like I kept these in the back of my mind throughout the year. What is a resolution for, after all? I may need to make the cake one more specific or narrow if I want to continue with it, but stay tuned for 2011's culinary resolutions!

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