I'm sorry Martha, I Sandra Lee'd it! (If you're not familiar with the Food Network star she uses packets of taco seasoning and pre-made everything as shortcuts therefore if you "Sandra Lee" it you take a cooking shortcut involving some sort of processed food.)
I've been doing more baking from one of Martha Stewart's books (Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook) and I've got to admit, I took a few shortcuts. The first short cut isn't actually that bad. Martha has a recipe for fougasse which actually just points you to her french bread recipe but with a different method of shaping it. Her recipe requires you to start a day ahead of time and since I wanted the bread that day and not the next I just used my regular old bread recipe.
On that note I should mention that I've come up with a pretty effective flour ratio to make bread that isn't too crumbly. I use 4 parts bread flour, 1 part whole wheat and 3 parts all purpose flour. So for one batch that is usually 2 cups bread flour, 1/2 whole wheat and 1.5 all purpose flour. The reason I don't use entirely bread flour is that it is more expensive than regular flour but without it my bread comes out too crumbly.
So I followed Martha's instructions for shaping and here is the loaf:
It's supposed to be leaf like? At least it still tasted good but I probably should have stuck with her recipe.
The next escapade was crackers. Since I have less experience making crackers when I tried her recipe I actually followed all the instructions (well up to a point.)
I'm not sure these were technically crackers since they had a little yeast in them, they were actually more like pita bread but either way they were fabulous.
The only hitch in the instructions was that they tell you to use a pasta machine to roll out the crackers. Since we actually have a pasta machine I dusted it off and attempted to roll out the crackers and was totally unsuccessful. Her alternative suggestion was to just use a rolling pin. For me this ended up being so much easier. So why does she point you to such an obscure piece of equipment if a much more common one works just as well (if not better)?
Despite the fact that some came out inexplicably puffy they were really good. They are flavored with Parmesan and rosemary and although this combination was great I can think of tons of others that would be too.
Now I'm afraid I must fess up to my latest baking adventure for which I really pulled a Sandra Lee. I was so tempted by Martha's chocolate mocha roulade recipe that I needed to try it. What's better than basically a giant Swiss Cake Roll? (Sad that Little Debbie is my culinary reference for these.)
I did fine with the cakey part (although it's almost more like a meringue than a cake). I even whipped the egg yolks and whites by hand (with a little slave labor assistance). But then it came time to make the filling and I realized that even if I went out and bought cream to whip (not more whipping!) Mom still wouldn't be able to eat it (lactose intolerance). Then the powers of evil began to do their work on me and I decided that if I bought Cool Whip that would not only save me the trouble, but it is also lactose free! Plus it probably wouldn't cost me much more then a container of cream to whip. I was sold and I've got to say, I don't really regret it. The roulade came out great and it was already enough work without having to make the filling too.
Now to be fair, these recipes are fairly complicated and I will probably need a little more practice baking before I can execute them flawlessly. But I still feel guilty, sorry Martha! (I didn't even take a picture of it, I'm too embarrassed.)