Baking Day - A New Way of Hanging Out

"Cheese is very much like wine. It's just milk, which, based merely on where it came from and how it was treated, can taste an infinite number of ways."
- Suzanne Going - The A.O.C. Cookbook
I am slowly reading my way through the beautiful A.O.C. cookbook that my parents gave me for my birthday.
Although I'm not a chef and have no desire to be a chef (okay, I'd totally do cooking classes and personal chef-ery if I qualified), I find her heart for food and her thoughtful prospect of composing dishes endlessly challenging. I'll definitely be talking about this book in the near future so if you want, grab a copy from the library and read up on this successful restaurateur and chef. You'll probably end up like me and find yourself viewing the food you make with a more calculated eye! But enough of that- I get to share a bunch of yummy photos and inspiration behind a recent afternoon dedicated to baking all kinds of improbably, impractical things.

Last week I got to spend the afternoon in my friend, Christen's, apartment. It's a little walk-up on the seventh floor, full of natural light and white walls and actually-old radiators and a gas stove. It was, in short, exactly the sort of place you would want to shoot photos for a cookbook if you were ever going to shoot a cookbook. You know, #pipedreams. Being staunch followers of The Great British Baking Show, she and I had decided we'd plan an afternoon to do nothing but bake - all the projects we either did not have time or inclination for on an ordinary day or weekend. She chose a batch of M&M cookies and an elegant Victoria Sponge cake. I went a little farther afield with some of Molly Yeh's marzipan and sea-salt mandel bread (this has since become my new love-language. It's like biscotti that up and got personality and a little silky sass, courtesy of the marzipan.) and a sort of Georgian "bread boat" called khachapuri which are essentially boat-shaped pizzas filled with this mind-blowing mix of soft goat cheese and creamy mozzarella tucked under a counterpane of prosciutto which is sprinkled right before going into the oven with fresh, chopped rosemary. Yes, they are just as good as they sound. Which is why A) my awkward explanation to the cheese-guy at the grocery store actually went over even though I told him with a straight face that I was making "dough boats." B) Christen and I were massively disappointed to find that when we actually got around to the eating-it bit, we were no longer hungry enough to demolish a whole boat on our own! Do you know how sad that is? But rest assured. On a normal day, I could kill one of those "dough boats" no problem. I'm thinking...picnic food? Of course I'm thinking picnic food. When am I not thinking picnic food? I followed a recipe from Food52 if you're interested in making some for yourselves. Although there miiiiight be a Lipstick & Gelato-specific variation coming up on the blog soon if you'd rather wait for that. I think you'd better be careful when lining pans with parchment paper...our oven temperature was such that it took the fire alarm to tell us that the edges had begun to smoke and curl. I quickly trimmed them off while Christen fanned the space in front of the fire alarm and assured her roommate that we weren't burning the place down.
 The older I get the more I realize that I love to go home almost as much as I love to go out. If I can have people with me - essentials, you know. I feel if I had to play one of those 'If you were stranded on a desert island and could pick one thing to take with you" games, my answer would be "a friend." Spoilers: not so I could resort to cannibalism. At any rate, if you like to bake and are tired of generally "going out to do something" as friends, why not have a baking day? Baking days allow you to stay in your comfy clothes, have long conversations, make your entire apartment complex smell like cinnamon rolls. For this sort of thing it's nice to not have more than two or three people to make sure you're not murdering each other for a chance at the oven. Christen and I found that two in her little bitty kitchen was the perfect number - we didn't bungle the choreography involved and our body heat + the oven made the upper regions of her kitchen the perfect temperature for prooving the khachapuri dough. So grab some friends, test-drive a couple recipes, and try not to die from a surfeit of carbohydrates by punctuating the afternoon with a nice salad and a few mugs of tea. Best of luck to you!

1 comment

  1. I have to remind myself never to go on your blog when I'm hungry.