When It All Goes Pear-Shaped

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sometimes, despite your best intentions, baking is a thoroughly sticky business. It sticks to your fingers. It sticks to whisks, spatulas and wooden spoons alike (except when you flick them to try and remove it, and then it sticks to whatever it finds). It sticks, without careful application of baking paper, to cake tins (and occasionally, when the application of baking paper isn’t careful enough, it sticks to that as well). You get the sticky picture...

Not content with sticking to everything in its path, baking can also be very effective in sticking to itself. Carefully placed dollops of biscuit dough creep flatly across the tray, spreading into an amorphous mass. Huddled fluffy scones unite to be become the enormous beast that is The Mega Scone!
Much as it’s ultimately the taste that counts, removing a tray of conjoined cookies from the oven causes a pang of disappointment. It’s likely to be met with a sympathetic hug when offered round at home, hopefully followed by a surprised exclamation when it turns out to taste so much better than it looks. It’s not likely to draw a hungry horde if taken to work. And how on earth am I going to photograph it?
Don’t despair! Help is at hand with these brilliant plates that can make your baking hiccup look like you planned it all along...

Skyscraper plates by Maxime Ansiau, via Hovering Cat (although I bet they’re a nightmare to fit in the cupboard...)

But, if you don’t have the perfect plate to display your latest creation with pride, perhaps there’s another solution... Present it with a Picnic bar alongside, secure in the knowledge that it’ll look wonderful in comparison, and that delicious ugliness can be embraced as a rather unconventional distinction. 

At the risk of incurring the wrath of Matt Moran, is it better when these ugly ducklings of the baking world taste as questionable as they look and can be turfed unceremoniously onto the compost heap without mounting guilt at the very real problem of food wastage? Or that they’re a delicious mess to be treated not with disappointment but with tenderness and perseverance? What do you do with a recipe that doesn’t quite go according to plan?

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