MAKE IT OR BAKE IT
It’s no secret that I’m afraid of kitchens. The knives, open flames, and risk of being forced to prepare an actual meal cause me great anxiety and dread. So when my Grandma Parr offered to teach me how to make her delicious Swedish Puff Pastry, I was partly honored, partly scared out of my mind. I recently spent a weekend in my hometown, Omaha, with my family. I had planned to shop, wine & dine, relax, and, well… bake. I headed to grandma’s house on Saturday afternoon in my new pastel skinny jeans and Paper Crown blazer and committed my first baking faux pas, arriving sans apron.
My grandma has been having trouble seeing lately, so she prefaced my baking lesson with “If it turns out badly, you can tell everyone I made it and wasn’t able to read the ingredients.” And then I committed my second baking faux pas by actually considering blaming a baking blunder on my sweet, 88-year-old grandmother.
I knew I had a problem when I read the first ingredient on the recipe card: Oleo. Excuse me, what? “Um, grandma, what’s oleo?” I got a pity chuckle from grandma, who replied, “Why sweetheart, that’s butter!” Oh. Duh. I proceed to properly measure each ingredient, mix in a bowl, and create 2 long and narrow pieces of dough for the first layer of the pastry. The second layer was even easier. I was on a roll!
I put my doughy creation into the oven for an hour, set the timer, and retreated to the couch. Baking is EXHAUSTING. I could tell both grandma and I were stressed when she suggested we drink wine as we waited for our pastry to bake... Eventually, the hour was up and it was time for the big reveal. I slowly opened the oven door with the caution and fear only a first-time baker exudes… ALAS, two beautiful, perfect pastries!
Finally, the last step: glaze with icing and sprinkle with almond slices… seems easy enough. Yeah. Right. The first batch of icing looked like horrific, disgusting goop. Grandma and I took a small taste, and it was painful to swallow. After the first failed attempt, I decided to pay extra close attention to the instructions and created a quite nice looking batch of cream cheese frosting that was most importantly, edible.
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for… My masterpiece!
My key baking takeaways: 1. There are set measurements for a reason. 2. Don’t put butter in the microwave. 3. Turn the beaters off before raising them out of the bowl. 4. Only bake when you have a grandma nearby for moral support. Grandmas are the absolute BEST. They are nice, cute, smart, and think everything you do is funny!
All in all, it was a successful experience, and I am so glad I got to share it with my grandma!