Bake sale basics: bake what you know

As some readers of this blog know, I’m in the thick of grad school. During summer months that leaves me quite a bit of time for culinary experimentation (see, for example, a salmon pie, homemade crackers, and a pretty good bird). Now, however, as I enter the third week of my fall term, I’ve found myself mostly excavating leftovers from the depths of my freezer with hardly a moment to spare to whip up or photograph a mediocre meal.

Readers paying close attention will have observed my use of the words “mostly” and “hardly” in the previous sentence. That’s right: I have had occasion to attempt three recipes in the last while, specifically a departmental book and bake sale. For the “bake” part of my donation, I produced the following three products:

1) Pistachio shortbread from Ottolenghi
2) Gluten-Free Chickpea Flour Cupcakes
3) Gluten-Free Brownies

What looks like a lava cake, smells bad, and tastes metallic? This cook’s rendition of Chickpea Flour Chocolate Cupcakes!

So, I learned a lesson more experienced cooks probably already know: save new recipes (especially those from amateur sources) for testing when I’m the only paying customer; use a tried-and-true recipe for baked goods destined for public consumption. For the record, although the cupcakes don’t speak volumes for my progress in the kitchen, the shortbread and brownies sold out in a matter of hours so…I guess that doesn’t necessarily mean they tasted good, but it at least means they looked good enough to lay down a loonie or two for!

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