As previously mentioned, cooking is really not my area of expertise (those pesky knives) but baking on the other hand is right up my alley. Yesterday (or today depending on how you want to look at it) a few of my friends (A., JP and Mickyfine) and I decided to have the baking day to end all baking days. We are talking about extremely ambitious plans to bake like it is going out of style – JP kindly offered to host the party and since he is not a baker, A. and I pretty much hauled our baking kitchens over (i.e. mixers, mixing bowls, measuring cups, cookie trays and other baking supplies). The list of things to make were: cake pops, coconut cream pie, Korean hoddeok, macarons, and nutella and strawberry dessert pizza. Sugar overload anyone?
We had a small set back and ended up starting a little later than we originally thought but we still managed to come through like champions and made nearly everything on the list except the coconut cream pie because we didn’t realize that the filling need to chill for 4 hours and it was already 8pm when we got around to reading that recipe (whoops). So instead of making the pie, we just whipped up another batch of cupcakes. I am totally going to own up to using the box mix for the cake pops and cupcakes since the logic was if we’re going to smush up the cake and bind it with icing, do we really need to make it from scratch? While purists (which we are not) might be screaming “YES!”, we decided to go with the shortcut and let the box help us out (besides A. and I completely forgot to bring flour to JP’s so cake mix was much easier to grab from the store). Before I go any further, let me explain the A. and Argenplath Method of Baking – “if it looks alright, we’re probably good.” We’re pretty haphazard and not bound by exact measurements so as long as it’s close enough, we’re fine with the way things are going.
First up for the afternoon was the macarons. I love macarons but it’s not exactly a cheap treat – we’re talking about $1.50 for two bites of heaven. So in the true WWAP way, I have set out to bake them myself. My first attempt was a complete and utter failure. My poor little macarons were all hollow on the inside! So this is what happened to them instead:
That’s right, my sister and I drew on the shells with toothpicks and food colouring. Ahem – can you see the vast difference from the second photo and the last two? Obviously someone in the family got all the artistic talent (hint: it wasn’t me). While the macarons were not really macaron-y, they still tasted pretty good so yay for flavor and boo on baking execution.
So with that epic baking fail behind me (it took a few weeks to pick up all the shattered pieces of my ego), I decided that baking day meant another test of my macaron making prowess, but with help, so it’s not just my ego and self esteem on the line. Well, I guess the A. and Argenplath Method of Baking is not very good for macarons, apparently exactness is pretty important. Our macarons (pink this time) also failed on the baking front, but some did turn out a little bit better than last time, so slightly less hollow but they still looked like empty little shells. Huge plus was that Mickyfine really liked the taste of them and took a whole bunch home! I remain optimistic that one day in the (near?) future I will master (or passably replicate) a macaron, but until then, I am buying them every month from Mirabelle Macarons.
Moving on from the depressing fail, let’s talk about all the things that did go right. A. and I have a thing for cake pops/cake bites (which are really cake pops without sticks) and we have talked about making them and since they were (are they still?) the sexy, trendy thing, the internet has a bajillion recipes and super cute designs (see Bakerella). We had bookmarked a few but were not sure how we would get around to designing them. We basically made our cake, crumbled them into a bowl, added a delicious cream cheese icing (made using the true A. and Argenplath Method of Baking– no recipe here!) and rolled them into delectable little lemon-y cake balls. After cooling those (while we chowed down on a pizza dinner), we melted our colourful chocolates (Bulk Barn buy) using JP’s instructions of popping them in the microwave for 1 minute and 37 seconds at 80% power (he totally made that up but it was perfection so maybe he does have some secret chocolate mojo?). After our cake balls took a glorious chocolate swim, they were ready for consumption, although some of them never made it to the end of their cakey journey (taste testing is important!).
What about the design you ask? Heh well, it was late and we had some wine so we threw design out the window and just went straight to dunking them in chocolate. You win some and you lose some with the A. and Argenplath Method of Baking but they look and taste like cake pops so that means one for the win column. Check out that beautiful pink cake pop Mickyfine is showing off (it’s not the first time Mickyfine’s hands have appeared as models!) – looks delicious!
So what about those cupcakes? Well as we were taste testing the cake pops after baking, we realized that Duncan Hines lemon cake mix makes some good cakes! We ran back to the store and grabbed a few more boxes of mix and whipped up another batch. Lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting are awesome! The cake has this great lemon flavor and they came out of the oven beautifully fluffy and yummy. Mmm cupcakes… Try it with some cupcake wine! No joke, that cupcake wine is so good and it’s not expensive (~$15) at all.
Finally after some cupcake wine, we finished off the night with some dessert pizza and hoddeok. A. and I picked up the pizza dough a few weeks back from Battista’s Calzone Company (their calzones are awesomely delicious) and rolled that out, cooked it on a pan (~425 degrees for 10 minutes?) and then had Mickyfine spread nutella and strawberries over it. There was some debate on whether or not you are supposed cook the nutella and strawberries in the oven too and we still don’t know but it worked out so it’s probably good.
JP’s hoddeok was fantastic! If you’ve ever made cinnamon buns at home, this is what it would taste like if you used those ingredients and made it into a stuffed pancake. I took two of these home and am noshing on one right now as I write (there will be no sharing of these puppies). I have no idea how JP made these as I completely missed the process (I was probably crying over my failed macarons *sniff*) but I am 99% sure that he used the recipe from the hoddeok link in the first paragraph. Seriously, if you have time and all the ingredients, you need to make these.
Are you worried about the sugar high we’re all probably on right now (otherwise why on earth would I be blogging at 3AM)? Don’t worry, we did have some real food in the middle of this baking extravaganza and there were lots of baked goods that made it home with everyone.
So What Would Argenplath Pay?
I wouldn’t say that this was the least expensive baking day that I’ve had but in terms of comparing the quantity of goodies we made and what you would pay out in the world, it was pretty sweet (hehe) deal! In total we probably spent $30-$40 on baking supplies, but when you get charged $1.50 – $2.00 for a cake bite, we totally came out ahead (I forgot to count how many we made but more than 20 so all the other baked stuff would be profit (if we were selling them)). We had a lot of ingredients that aren’t in our pantries so that also contributed to a higher cost than usual since we especially went out and bought cake mix, melting chocolates, ground almond meal, strawberries, nutella, and cream cheese.
The rough cost of making each item would probably breakdown like this:
- Macarons (no filling): $6-$7 (I’ve never filled mine due to baking fails)
- Macarons (filling): $10-$12 (rough estimate, depends on what filling you include)
- Cake pops: $15-$20 (chocolate melts + cream cheese are the major cost contributors)
- Cupcakes: $5
- Dessert Pizza: $4
- Hoddeok: $4
Is baking worth it? I would say yes especially if you like to do it and can round up a couple like minded friends. This makes for good times and we managed to collectively say tons of hilarious and witty (ok that is subjective but I think we’re witty) things. Even if you’re not a baker – take a page from the A. and Argenplath Method of Baking: “If it looks alright, you’re probably good.” (unless of course you’re making macarons – then ignore that and go for exact measurements!) So in the WWAP manual, if you were to make a profit should you go out into the real world and sell your stuff (at reasonable prices), then it’s a good idea. Who knows, maybe one day you will be stopping by the Argenplath and co. Bake Shoppe (all items made from scratch and not box mix)!