Friday, October 23, 2009

Baker's mojo

This is a diminutive working rolling pin and it's American-style, meaning not in one piece, that the barrel of unpainted maple rolls and the red-painted handles don't move with it. This lucky rolling pin has been mine almost as long as I can remember anything at all, and I still have the little bit of home-written verse that came with it. When new, long ago, it was used to roll out piecrust scraps, which would be dusted with nutmeg and then twisted and baked. I've never learned to like pies, which were baked in quantity at least once a week, with a crust of lard and flour and a bit of salt and nothing else, but I did like that crust. The little toy but working rolling pin has always been with me and always in my baking drawer. The weather's fresh and crisp and so a Breton chocolate pound cake is fresh out of the oven (see picture of one, along with the same Adams Extract pure vanilla used today), along with a batch of popovers fresh from the cast-iron pan of straight-sided cups with the little bit extra going into a buttered Bennington bird bowl. The popovers emerged in perfect form, not a one sunken in, all with perfect puffed-up mushroom-cap tops and a bit of hollowness inside, where the hot air expanded. I use James Beard's recipe but ignore his instructions that everything must be brought to room temperature, since Marion Cunningham in her Fannie Farmer baking book reported that step not necessary, which turns out to be true. It's so wonderful that summer's over!


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