If you are a parent with school kids, you know the highway robbery that is the School Book Fair. It’s where your kids beg, bargain and basically ask you ad nauseam to give them money so they can buy a book (or two) or tons of these fruit shaped erasers that you just end up stepping on a day or two later. Luckily for my girls, their Book Fair always is around the time they get their report cards and because they do well in school, I tend to let them choose one book to buy and take home. This semester/term, Emma took home a book inspired by Disney Movie, The Descendants and Felicity took home American Girl Around the World.
The book had a fair amount of easy to make recipes from different countries. So the second we got home, Felicity started earmarking which recipes she wants to make. For two days she kept browsing and would then ask for things like Tapioca flour, plain yogurt or if I knew where we kept the sushi mat. She wanted to make something from her new book but every time, she’d find out we don’t have what we need. Deflated, she said, all I wanted was to make this – pointing to a picture of these Brazilian Cheese Puff. I looked at the ingredient list, I told her we don’t have the kind of cheese it was asking for to be able to make it. She pouted. “I just wanted to make them coz it reminds of my friend’s potluck dish she brought last year.” “What was it called?”, I asked as I tried to remember if she had a classmate from Brazil. “It’s called Puff-Puff. It was sooo good. My friend’s mom made it. She’s from Nigeria.” Thanks as always to Pinterest, I found a recipe for Puff-Puff. As it turns out, it’s a dough based snack that comes from parts of Africa with countries vying to say that they have the best version of the treat.
Ok, let me share with you how I pick which recipe to follow on Pinterest. It’s fairly simple. Give me a good pin photo and if I have 80% of the ingredients in my kitchen (with the 20% I improvise using Google), then we are cooking folks! So for this Puff Puff recipe, I followed one from 9jaFoodie and if you want to do it too, you can find the recipe here.
The recipe I found on 9jaFoodie’s website actually has a YouTube video to help newbies out. Let me already tell you, this momma, didn’t have time for that. I have a very pouty 8-year old who wanted to do something in the kitchen. I breezed through the instructions and basically figured this is easy peasy. First mistake.
My second mistake is not using the right amount of yeast, it called for 4 teaspoons. One packet of yeast yields, as it says on the package, 2 1/4 teaspoons. I used two packages and figured, what diff would 1/2 teaspoon do?
Third mistake was not using a deep enough pan to cook the dough in. Quite possibly, this could have been avoided if I actually did watch the accompanying video, but apparently, I like to live dangerously.
And lastly, as I re-read the recipe again, 9jaFoodie did have tips to avoid messing up the Puff Puff of which I basically glossed over. I thought I am already a pro enough in the kitchen and basically thought that I got this. For reference, the photo you saw at earlier is what it should look like. It’s like puffy doughnut balls. That was the goal. Below is what they turned out to be – flat and deflated looking. I sprinkled some powdered sugar in hopes of making it look better. And no, it didn’t help.
I tasted the first batch of the deflated puff puff and apart from scorching my tongue, it was actually very tasty. The dough had nutmeg and sugar so it was sweet but not too sweet. It was chewy which am pretty sure shouldn’t be the case for these things. I called Felicity over from the yard. She gave up wanting to make them after we mixed all the ingredients up and I told her we have to wait an hour for the dough to rise before we can fry them up. I made her try one and right away I can tell this didn’t pass. But like always, bless her heart, she always gave my kitchen fails a good try and then try to find ways to either hide the remains of the uneaten portions or leave them on a plate with a “I’ll eat them later, Mom. Gotta pee (or insert any easy excuse to get out of the kitchen)”.
So what have learned in this Puff Puff fiasco? One, that I seriously need to read recipes and watch videos. Don’t be fooled by 5 ingredient recipes thinking it’s going to be soooooo simple.
Two, admit to myself that the reason I got all gung-ho about trying to cook and make this recipe in particular is because I didn’t like that a different mom was getting the praise for cooking something “sooooo, soooo good!” It wasn’t really because I wanted to try something new, it was because I was being my petty self and wanted her to say that I made something good. And clearly, when cooking is not done from a place of joy, you get deflated discs of sweetened shame.
Third, that even when I make mistakes, my girls still are willing to give my cooking and baking another try and for that I am grateful. “Mom, they’re just not ball shaped, but they still taste good. Your fail is still good.” I mean, seriously, how did I get so lucky?
Lastly, do try to make these at home if you can. If you like mini donuts from the Carnival/Fair, it has that flavour to it. I mean, follow of course the video and take the recipe tips so you actually do get Puff Puff and not a pancake-wannabe like mine.