Sometimes, I really need to stop and think about what I am doing and not just go through the motions. I need to be conscious of the salt I am measuring, and be watchful of the oven that contains this important cake. I need to fully read the recipe before I begin baking and I need to recognize exactly I'm making and what I want to achieve in the end.
Sometimes, I just go through the actions. Cream the butter and sugar, and mix together the dry ingredients. Step 1, step 2, throw it in the oven and let it cool.
I need to always be fully aware of what I'm doing, even though that is definitely not always the case.
About two years ago, I started following a recipe for a blonde brownie that I was prepared to make. I pulled out the necessary ingredients, I followed the recipe, I made a batch of blondies, and they turned out strangely... gooey. These blondies were not a good type of gooey; they were falling apart and left a weird stickiness in the bottom of the pan. They definitely could not be classified as a sturdy, baked blonde brownie. I just thought that this blondie failure (truly, a complete failure) was due to the weird recipe.
So, I tried another recipe. Unfortunately, I achieved similar results with this second batch, except they were even more stickier and gooey than the previous batch. I had no idea what was going on with my baking skills and these blondies.
I was discouraged with these results, so I baked a batch of cookies next. I blocked blondies from my head, and headed towards a different product. I really paid attention to the ingredients I was using, and when I reached for what I thought was the flour container and scooped and leveled a cup of the stuff, I realized it did not had the same consistency as flour.
And so I realized that this "flour" was powdered sugar. Yep, I had gone through two, and almost three, recipes confusing these two obviously different products. I was not realizing what I was doing when I used the powdered sugar as flour. Since the containers of flour and sugar are identical and the powdered sugar one was where the flour container typically lived, I just assumed that it was flour. I never realized in those first two recipes that it was not what I was supposed to be using.
Since then and forever, I really try to be fully conscious of what I am doing because you never what you might be messing up if you're not giving your full attention to what you are doing.
Hey, you might get disastrous blondies if you're just going through the actions.
So whenever I make blondies, they really remind myself to pay special attention to what I'm doing. I carefully measured the flour (yes to all-purpose unbleached, not to messy sweetness), reread how many eggs I needed, and checked the oven when the blondies were half-way through to make sure they were doing alright.
These are all daily habits I have developed, but I still sometimes just bake and don't fully live in the moment while I'm baking tons of goodies to give away during the holidays.
While I'm doing anything, I try to remind myself to stop and really enjoy what I'm doing. Do not just fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Really remember how much you enjoy this and never forget it.
Pretty much, live right now and be fully aware and enjoy what's happening.
And make sure your flour is alright, because pretty weird stuff can result if you don't realize what you're actually doing.
Oh, and also... remember to give the dogs water. Always and forever.
Chocolate Chunk Blondies
makes 12 large blondies
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 8 x 12 x 2 inch baking pan.
Cream together the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the vanilla, followed by the eggs, one at a time, on low speed.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and add to the mixer bowl on low speed. Then, fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes.