I’ve gone silent; not from lack of kitchen time, but from a life and kitchen that are evading my mastery. I’ve been trying to improve upon a local bakery’s signature fruit coffee cake called a “Wagon Wheel” – a round of yeast dough dolloped with cloying fruit gel and sprinkled with… I’m not really sure…maybe cake mix crumbs? This ubiquitous breakfast treat has graced the break-room counter of every office building in the county. Often brought by vendors during morning visits, almost every employee is sure to consume a wedge with their morning cup of java. For all their popularity, they’re not very good. Even Entenmann’s can do better. The best part is the fruit dollops – portions are often selected haphazardly to ensure a fruit blob, resulting in a skeleton wheel of leftover nondescript coffeecake, thrown away at day’s end.
A few weeks ago, I was cutting my own Tetris wedge from a wheel, insuring to capture a blueberry dollop, when I decided that I could do better – the cocky assurance of a week’s pastry school still upon me – more fruit and a delectably sweet, yeasty dough. I’ll develop the ultimate recipe, quit my job and make a fortune!!! I’ve gone through a couple of ideas and so far, no luck. This afternoon, after three hours of rising time (ugh, there’s no yeast bread without time), I took one bite and, crestfallen, tossed the rest in the garbage, still oven-warm. Even a heavy dose of butter and liberal sprinkling of powdered sugar couldn’t resuscitate it. It’s been the same misstep each time – overly chewy edges and a lack of sweetness.
One step forward, two steps back. Why am I not surprised – as in life, so also in the kitchen…but I’ll get to that later.