De-puffed Puff

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.

Puff Puff – photo by 9jaFoodie

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.

De-puffed Puff

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.

Dear Food Network…

Dear Food Network,

I just wanted to take a couple minutes to share with you what me and my daughter Felicity did today.

You see, she’s spent most of her Spring Break watching Kids Baking Championship with her sister, Emma. We spent our evenings trying to decipher who was getting booted off the sugar and icing laden island. We love Valerie and how she tries to be sweet and gentle to the kids when giving her judgement on their baking.

So today, on the last day of their Spring Break, Felicity wanted to bake a cake. It was chilly out and a warm oven is always welcome respite to the cold days, so I indulged her. Having a box of Devil’s Food Cake cake mix in the pantry, she decided we’ll make that and do up frosting from scratch. Being all supportive, I had to look up how to make up ganache as apparently, this word is now part of her vocabulary. Turns out, when making ganache with unsweetened baking chocolate, you end up with very bitter ganache. You know what she said to me, “Don’t worry Mom, the bitterness will balance out the sweetness of our cake.” Um, okaaaay, there, Anna Olson. We forged on and spread the ganache on one of the cake’s layers. We then whipped up some frosting and she was not impressed that all we can do is use our offset spatula and spread it. She topped it with Skor bits afterwards. She then used the words, “balance” and “sweetness” and “crunch” to help describe her cake to her Dad. When he commented that the cake was a bit crumbly and I mentioned that I may have added a minute or two to the baking time, Felicity looks at me and says, “I told you shouldn’t have added more time, Mom!” In my head am like, is this 8-year old for real right now?!? Overall though, the cake did turn out good. The bitter ganache wasn’t as bitter as when we first made it and it did help cut back on how sweet the entire cake tasted. I guess Felicity was right about this thing she called Balance.

Chocolate Frosting = Chocolate coma-inducing

I guess in my long-winded way, I just want to say, thanks Food Network. Thanks for igniting a new passion for my daughter. I got a tight hug after supper as my daughter thanked me and told me that “we work well together Mom!”. I also thank you because now, my Stand Mixer will be used more often as we create more things together in our kitchen. We’re more likely to create/bake more fails and be nowhere near the caliber of those bake-off champs but for me, just having these moments with my daughter is prize enough. Thanks for making this Sunday a moment for us to not worry about the mess but enjoy the moment together.

Thanks so much, I truly appreciate it!

Love from a Mom currently going under a chocolate coma.

Felicity’s Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Pinterest made me do it

I just don’t want to look back and think, “I could’ve eaten that.” — Unknown

Emma’s Little Mermaid Birthday Cupcakes

It’s not really Pinterest’s fault but figured it’s easier to pin (harhar) the blame on them should this attempt at blogging turns out to be like one of my many attempts at baking — a FAIL! To be fair, it’s not really Pinterest’s fault either that many of my baking attempts do turn out to be duds. It’s mostly due to my inability to follow directions properly or lack of ingredients and patience that turns those pretty ideas into a burnt out mess.

They WERE pretzels

That said, I hope to share on here my many kitchen adventures and misadventures brought about by me typing in the contents of my fridge and pantry onto the Google search bar and seeing what recipes would come out. Most of them I found very tasty and there’s some that were not as yummy. My most recent fail is my attempt at making pretzels with my eldest, Felicity. She caught me browsing through Instagram — my latest recipe finding tool — and saw a photo of these cute mini bagels posted by Smitten Kitchen. As you can see by the photo above, these clearly are not the same as the one done by Deb Perelman. They were overdone and can injure someone if you hurled it at them because they were a bit hard on the surface.

And I guess that’s where this idea of me writing the blog came to be. I wanted more room to share my stories and not feel limited to just capturing that one “perfect” Instagram photo of my dinner. Also, with me still slowly recovering from my Microdiscectomy, it’s a good outlet for me as I’ve been using cooking and baking as my mini-therapy session. I found in the last few months of being home-bound — outside of doctor and physio appointments — cooking/baking helped me enjoy time with my girls plus they’ve learned that there is a lot of work out into putting a dish onto the table. They’ve also learned that they can use their math skills when trying to help me how to double a recipe or reading skills as they read to me instructions to a recipe while my hands are busy mixing ingredients.

So what to expect next? Well, here’s hoping I get to share with you my kitchen stories especially now that both my girls are into discovering their cooking skills. I will not be afraid to show you my burning kitchen in as much as I showcase my colourful cupcakes. I want to discover tried and true recipes by respected chefs, food bloggers and even just moms who thought that they’ve got a good recipe going. I remember seeing this wooden sign once at a shop, “Eat. Laugh. Live.” I am hoping that through my use of Pinterest, Google and Instagram in my kitchen, I do just that. Care to join me?