So this week we've been wreaking disaster around the house. Mostly in the kitchen area. It seems to be particularly disaster prone . . .
I usually pride myself as a pretty decent cook, particularly baking. I had a scratch recipe for rolls memorized when I was eleven (I've forgotten it now) I once brought a dessert to a potluck. It was a trifle but no none else there knew what that was. They examined the gooey mess of fruit custard and cookies in confusion.
My sister shrugged and piled some onto her plate. "My sister's really good with desserts." She told her friends. They followed her example and seemed to enjoy it.
I gleamed with pride.
So when I decided to make a Pumpkin Roll a couple of years ago I didn't foresee any problems. I'd made plum pudding for goodness' sake. How hard could a rolled up cake be?
Let's not answer that question just yet.
When I was growing up my aunt made the very best pumpkin rolls in existence. Sadly she had died but I had managed to get the recipe from her. So I felt like I was in pretty good hands. There was no way these instructions were going to fail me.
So I listed the ingredients and headed for the baking isle. I piled everything on the list down to the vanilla extract into my cart and walked back home. (Yes, I did pass the register first. I think someone would have stopped me if I'd tried to leave the store with an armload of baking goods!)
What I didn't look at were the things I would need that weren't strictly ingredients. Like
A cookie sheet
I mixed up a triple batch of the batter. I preheated the oven. I looked at the next step.
Spread thinly onto baking sheet.
Oh . . . I don't think we have any. Oh well. A cake pan works just as well. I poured a somewhat thicker than specified layer onto the bottom of our two cake dishes and stuck them in the oven. I set the rest of the batter aside for the third roll.
I made whipped together the cream cheese filling while I waited fifteen to twenty minutes then pulled them out of the over. I looked at the next step.
Pull bread off of sheet immediately before cools and roll in clean dish towel.
Uh . . . blast. I knew I should have done the laundry earlier.
I scrambled madly through the house for a small and clean-enough-to-touch-food piece of fabric and finally settled on tin foil. Meanwhile what was supposed to be the roll had cooled.
And it stuck to the pan.
And it was too thick to roll.
I sighed and frosted the bits I could get out with the filling. At least it would still taste the same and I still had some batter left. I scrubbed the stubborn crumbs of pumpkin bread off one of the pans then decided, that to avoid the sticking to the pan problem this time I would cook it on top of the tin foil. That way it would be easier to roll right?
I am going to stop for a moment here to confess that I am not a very NICE cook. You know that baker who hits everyone with her rolling pin and screams at everyone to get out of her kitchen while she's working? That's me on a good day. Now imagine that I've decided to make a recipe with emotional overtones to distract myself from the stress of finals and nothing is going right.
My mom and siblings were sick to death of the whole idea of pumpkin rolls by this time.
When the last "roll" came out of the oven I pulled it out of the cake pan, foil and all and rolled it up. There! The hard part was done. I sat back and waited for it to cool. I munched on the pumpkin "bars" I'd made. They were pretty good if not very pretty. This final roll was going to be amazing.
At last it had cooled. I unrolled it and tried to peel the tin foil off.
Tried is the key word here. It stuck as badly as the pan did. I tried to frost the pieces I managed to get off and piece them together to roll but I hadn't saved aside enough of the filling to cover it so all I managed was an ugly lump of pumpkin bread and cream cheese frosting.
Everyone stayed clear of me for a couple hours after that.
But wait. I'm not done yet.
This last Thanksgiving I thought I would try to make them again (I can be pretty stubborn like that). I'd learned from my mistakes right? I would get parchment paper. I would read the whole recipe before I started. I would make sure there was enough filling. My mom even bought me a cookie sheet and I did the laundry first.
And so I began. Unfortunately, as I stood at the table, mixing together ingredients and chatting with all the other busy Thanksgiving cooks I poured in too much flour. And once in you can't take it out. So I had to double the batch. But I don't have enough eggs. Or enough sugar.
I left my half mixed batter on the table, dusted the four off my hands and headed for the store. That is to stay the Day-Before-Thanksgiving madness that passed for the store at that precise moment. Miraculously I managed to return half an hour later with no broken bones with the missing ingredients. I mixed them in and put the rolls in the oven.
But alas, our oven doesn't quite work the way it is supposed to right now. Sometimes you have to turn it on a few times before it lights up and sometimes it goes off without warning. I, anxious to follow the recipe exactly this time, left my creations in the oven for the exact amount of time specified. It looked a little gooey coming out but I thought it was best not to trust my instincts after the last fiasco. Besides it had to cool first right? (No Taryn. That's cookies not cake. You know that.) So I rolled them up, let them cool, spread cream cheese frosting on them, and stuck them in the fridge.
Horary! Pumpkin rolls in actual roll form. I couldn't wait to try them.
The next morning I did. They were raw. At least I managed to find out before our guests got there and we started serving them but . . . . whatever secret my aunt knew about making pumpkin rolls didn't translate into her recipe. I'm stubborn enough to vow to try again but I can only imagine what kind of disaster that will be . . .