Thursday, November 16, 2006

in which I attempt to be festive and domestic

The scent of pumpkin spices were in my head. (I'm ready for Thanksgiving and everything else!) It was also gray and depressing outside. Also they've been playing Christmas songs at my daughter's preschool and she was telling me which ones she liked. I am not normally one who listens to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, but I gave in to the pressure being exerted by the blogosphere at large and pulled out the carols. I'd been listening to Harry Connick Jr. so I switched Redlight Bluelight to his first Christmas album and watched the kids get excited to hear Sleigh Ride! Inspired, I went into the kitchen and filled up a pan with warm water, threw in some cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, whole cloves and an orange sliced into circles and turned on the stove. Take that! gray, depressing day!

The festive part was done, and bubbling happily along. So I decided, since the kitchen for once was clean that I would attempt that pumpkin roll I've wanted to make since last year. And easy slide from festive to domestic, yes?

I looked at the ingredients. I had them all. It seemed doable. I didn't read the directions. Hmmm. I started pulling out everything I'd need. I like to do that when I bake, and then put away what I've just used. I realized I didn't have enough powdered sugar. Fortunately the wonderful Lindsey rescued me by letting me have her new bag. (Thanks.) I greased and floured the pan. Then I realized it might be a little bigger than what was called for. I pulled out my handy-dandy tape measure. (Yes, I keep a small tape measure around for occassions such as this.) It was too big. I pulled out my pan of the right size, but it's an airbake pan and I've never had success with it. Also it's a pain to wash. But in the spirit of following the recipe I decided I should use it. I washed off the other pan (see how efficient and clean I am?) and then greased and floured the airbake. Then I started making the batter. Which required me to whip egg yolks for five minutes (I only have a hand mixer) and then to beat egg whites (which I had some trouble getting. An egg separation expert I am not) while having my oldest entertain the baby who had just decided to wake up from his nap. It took forever for the egg whites to stiffen. When they did, barely, I dumped them into the mixture, all the while narrating this post in my mind. I knew it would have a happy ending and that the pumpkin roll would be divine. Yum. I might dare to take a few slices to Lindsey, cook extraordinaire.

But who knew that something with so many egg whites doesn't spread its self more evenly like a cake does when exposed to heat? That all the little reels and hills would set, making it an unsmooth surface. In my limited baking experience and rush to get to the baby, I did not. Oh well. Onto the cream cheese frosting. Whose powdered sugar I didn't sift. So it ended up with a little bit more sugar than necessary. Gritty cream cheese frosting. Ummmm! But it was the pan that damned me. I went to turn the pan over onto the sugar powdered dish towel. The two ends came off, one end in half. The middle bottom, barely underbaked, did not. It stuck. And I knew that I should have gone with my first instincts - the slightly larger, and more reliable pan. I'd had it. I banged on the back of the pan to no avail. My daughter looked at me with wide eyes. I looked at the previously clean kitchen and vowed never to bake again until a) I have some space b) I have some cooking equipment and c) something else, maybe hell freezing over.

I took the top third of the roll that had survived and rolled it up, let it cool, unrolled and filled it with frosting, rolled it back up and stuck it into the freezer. When Ben got home we tried it. He liked it, blessed man. I could taste the over-abundance of powdered sugar and was again disappointed. The remaining pumpkin part wasn't too bad actually. But live and learn, huh? When I make this again in ten years, it will surely be a better experience.


  1. I sense a tad bit of frustration -- you've used "damned" and "hell" in one post. Sorry your roll didn't turn out, but all is not lost. It made for a funny story.

  2. And really, isn't a funny story all we're after? Yes.

  3. Seriously. I liked it.
    I guess I'm in charge of Thanksgiving now, huh?

  4. You are too kind with your compliment. And you are a better woman than I. I have never and probably never will make one of those roll-up cake things. I have watched countless cooking shows and wondered how what happened to you doesn't happen to them. They must have to make like 10 before they get one right. I'm so scared about rolling up a cake.

    At least you are in a holiday mood. I've been feeling grinchy already and it's not even Thanksgiving yet.

    Oh--cream cheese frosting is always gritty.

  5. hmmmm, i dont care what you say, it sounds delicious and my mouth is watering just from reading your post... hmmm now i must go out and try to find this recipe