I have a love-hate relationship with baking. Simply put, I love to eat things that are baked, but hate to bake them myself.
Most of my hatred comes from my inability to do it without causing some sort of HazMat situation. I may or may not have mentioned that I screwed up peanut butter cookies one day- you know, the cookies with two ingredients? Peanut butter and sugar? Shockingly simple recipe, horribly complex biological nightmare resulted.
Then there was the time I decided that even in the face of my rookie status in baking, I would attempt a from-scratch carrot cake for my wife’s birthday one year. Somehow the middle of the cake deflated, and my resolution was simply fill the crater with icing, much like I was filling a pothole in the middle of the road.
So yeah. Not a great track record in the baking department.
It’s always said that “Cooking is an art, baking is a science.” Well, having failed science (several times) I’m not surprised.
Every now and then though, I’ll get a wild idea that I’m going to try again. Mostly simple things, like getting a box or two of corn muffin mix and making them for breakfast for the boys. Well, even those damn things thwart me. In the last half-dozen or so runs I’ve taken at simple, out-of-the-box muffins, they always get destroyed in the tins when I try to take them out. I’ve tried baking them for more time. Less time. I’ve greased the ever-living snot out of the tins before I put in the batter to the point where…well….
A week or so ago, as I ruined another batch and grumpily served the top halves of a dozen muffins to my family for breakfast, I swore I’d never bake another thing again. I was done. Had it. Stupid rasafrassin-frikkin-rippin muffins can go #%$*U&% themselves. No more baking for me. Ever. Effit.
Then came the blackberries.
One of the greatest things about summer is the berries. There’s an area near me that was clear-cut a few years back for logging, and when that happens, one of the first things that always seems to grow back in are blackberry bushes. Well, this spot is primo berry picking property. We have a pretty good system for picking too. We’ll drive up to the end of the dead-end, one lane dirt road. We’ll turn around, and my wife will drive the car back, following the boys and I as we fill our buckets with berries. She’ll keep the ‘master bucket’ in the car with her, and we do dumps of the fruit we harvest. This serves two purposes. First, especially with The Destroyer’s sure footing, we don’t lose berries constantly to his tripping, slipping, and dumping them out. Or, to be frank, his inattention to things, which results in dumping. Second, we don’t lose too many berries to little mouths which have a habit of eating them faster than we can pick them sometimes.
We ended up with a metric butt-ton of blackberries, without a real plan as to what to do with them. We tried prodding my wife into making a blackberry pie with them, an idea which she vetoed. So, there this massive bowl of berries sat in the refrigerator, bothering me. I decided that we had berries to spare, so I reversed my decision to never bake again, and started googling.
The first thing I found- was this:
I didn’t have whipped cream, nor the mint-leaf garnish, and mine didn’t look QUITE as picturesque as the one on the recipe page….but hot damn was it good. It was simple too, which I think is what made it so good. If you’ve got an abundance of berries laying around, this one’s a must.
The next morning, thrilled with a victory under my belt, I decided to take another run at the baking thing, and found these:
No picture for this one, because the recipe is actually for BLUEBERRY muffins…a fact which was missed by yours truly until it came time to add the berries to the batter and it didn’t say ‘blackberries.’ Oops.
Turns out, the recipe isn’t berry specific. It works amazingly with blackberries. The picky Narrator had to be stopped before he could eat an even half-dozen of them. This wasn’t as simple as the cobbler was, but still a pretty direct recipe which I was able to follow without killing anyone, or causing any fires.
In the end….these two recipes restored a little bit of confidence in me when it comes to baking. We still have a ton of berries left too…and I have NO idea what to do with them. I’m thinking of blackberry lemonade or on ice cream, or…who knows.
I DO know that I’m not yet confident enough to take a stab at a blackberry pie yet.
Protip: If you can’t master a pumpkin pie with a store-bought crust….don’t eff around with berry pies quite yet.
That’s it for me for now. If I take a run at anything else, I’ll let you know. Thanks for dropping in, and make the muffins.
You’ll thank me later.