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Personal best

“I don’t want to overreach here, but this may be the worst thing I’ve ever cooked.” — bethini, today.

Little I knew, as I awoke this morning, what astonishing new heights of cookery flunk I would scope! Some days everything feels right in the kitchen and it all comes together like spontaneous group karaoke. You experiment with textures and flavours and you realise you’re playing along to some deep, developed intuition that knows what it’s saying. Today was not one of those days.

The goal was a lemon slice: a crumbly, short base supporting a thick, tangy lemon gel. The result:

As good as it looks.

Not even close. The best part was lifting it out of the oven and realising the coy brown strands by which it clung to the oven were some sort of burnt lemon-butterscotch confection. The cake pan I used was one of those ones with a lift-out bottom, designed to make cake-lifting a breeze. The lemon filling had soaked through the baked crumbly base and straight out the bottom of the pan, where it met the pizza stone atop which it perched and turned into bastard taffy. The oven has a distinct but lingering aroma of burnt sugar.

I let the slice cool in the pan, and when I lifted it out (makes cake-lifting a breeze!) discovered the horrible taffy had enveloped the base of the pan in something resembling lemon fruit leather but tasting of bitter self-doubt. It took some work to separate the slice from the base of the pan it had claimed as its own. So: compromised oven and utensils; looks all slumpy and funky; burnt on the edges — time for a taste-test! The burnt taffy on the pizza stone had infused the whole thing with the flavour of scorched sugar, and the filling had spongified the crumbly base into pulp. It was one of the worst things I’ve ever tasted, and definitely one of the worst I’ve ever made. It’s now in the compost, where it will soon start a new life as mulch for the silverbeet.

Meanwhile, these babies:

A cluster of anonymous heroes. We salute you.

(pinched from Turmeric ‘N’ Spice, discovered via foodgawker)

Two cups of ground almonds; one cup of sugar; three egg whites. Badda bing, badda boom: awesome almond macaroons. Light and chewy and nutty and completely delicious, they took all of about half an hour to make and ruined NO (as in: not one, none, zero, nix) cooking implements, manchester, appliances or garb. Turmeric ‘N’ Spice also gets a bonus high-five-plus-shout-out for explaining that the only reason to skin the almonds before grinding is to make the almond meal paler. It was the worst of slices, it was the best of biscuits. A day of extremes.

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