Considering the name of this blog, it seems fitting that I dedicate a post or two to the category of mishaps. And so here’s a recent Küchen catastrophe, a real Hausfrau fail if you will. It begins with a bottle of buttermilk that I bought to bake blueberry muffins but forgot to use.
Not wanting to let this bottle of buttermilk go to waste, I was agonizing over what to make when the perfect recipe emerged in my inbox—savory whole-wheat, buttermilk scones with rosemary and thyme. They sounded moderately healthy and I even had fresh thyme on hand. It was clearly meant to be. With visions freshly baked scones and their herbed and buttery scent, I set out to find the rest of the ingredients I needed. Procuring baking soda required a bit of googling as gibt es keine “Arm & Hammer” in der Schweiz. They use the scientific-sounding name sodium bicarbonate. Mmm, doesn’t that sounds tasty?
Here is where I must confess, I am more of a cook than a baker. Math and precise measurements aren’t really my thang. So I guess you could say I sort of eyeballed some of the ingredients. But hey if I’m a teaspoon or so off, it shouldn’t matter right?
I even broke out this relic. It was going to be magical, fantastisch, wunderbar!
Sadly, die Maschine funkionert nicht. So much for reliable German machinery. I mixed all of the ingredients by hand, being careful not to overwork the dough, and popped ten purposefully, imperfect dollops of floury delights into the convection oven.
Fifteen minutes later. Voila! My scones were done.
While they were the perfect shade of golden brown, and had that earthy herbal scent I was going for, they failed to rise and were looking a bit um flat. But looks aren’t everything right?
It really comes down to taste. Starting with the texture, I would compare it to that of densely, compressed saw dust. And the taste? If you could imagine what a tin can tastes like in all its salty, metallic glory. That might come close with a touch thyme and rosemary. No matter how generous the pat of butter, these dry, salty hockey pucks were hardly worthy of human consumption.
What went wrong you ask? It appears I grossly over-estimated the ratios of baking soda and baking powder to flour, which reverses the rising effects of the baking soda and causes a salty, metallic taste. Lesson learned. Baking is precise and I should probably consider leaving it to the professionals at the Bäckerei down the street.
That wasn’t grüezigirl’s only mishap last week… I planned to meet a new friend at the Museum Gestaltung, a contemporary design museum. The museum was featuring three main exhibits: the work of a famous Swiss typographer Wolfgang Weingart, an edgy indie movie poster series and an homage to underground spaces. About halfway through the underground spaces exhibit, I was completely engrossed in a haunting documentary about a homeless couple living in underground tunnels. Just then, all of the lights in the museum went out and my friend and I were standing in complete darkness. At first, I thought it was part of the exhibit but quickly realized the museum was actually closing. For an instant, it crossed my mind that I might get locked in. But thankfully, “A Night at the Museum” is still just a mediocer movie, not my fate. I did miss the entire typography exhibit, though, so I’ll have to go back to check it out.
Despite my baking blunder, a few other hausfrau fails, and a potential sleepover at the Museum, this week in Züri was not a complete loss. I aced my German test today. Got possessive pronouns down. Now if I could just get all those prepositions straight, Zum, Zur, Zu, In, Im, Ins, Nacht. It feels like there are 50 ways to say “to” and “in”. Is that really necessary? Ich glaube nicht!