Countrymen, I royally, revolutionarily screwed up during my annual 4th of July baking spree. Each year, I spend that holiday of holidays cheerfully putting something delicious together for my friend Emily’s annual party. I enjoy the prep, I enjoy the party, I enjoy watching fireworks, and I enjoy thinking about the Founding Fathers.
This year, I’ve figured out something I don’t enjoy: being tricked into crafting when I want to be baking.
Martha’s July issue featured a bunch of cheerfully iced sugar cookies. “Show your colors!” it demanded, and I stupidly complied. My colors are red, white, and blue, just like everybody else’s, only I am best when I display them as raspberries and blueberries scattered across meringue or something.
But no, noooo. I had to try my hand at “edible painting,” which instilled within me a hatred of baking that lasted for a full week. I should have sensed danger when I read the ingredient list, which included “meringue powder” and “icings with special branded color names.”
I’m never getting food at a craft store again. So gross. First of all, the sugar cookies, while easy enough to make, tasted like big, bland poker chips. But that’s OK. The appeal for these babies is in the beautiful patriotic pinwheels on the top, which are just so, so precious that everyone will overlook the fact that they are eating chemicals that taste like…chemicals.
Well, not if your pinwheels look like they were the end result of an afternoon volunteering at your kid’s preschool, which is exactly what mine looked like. Only I don’t have kids, and now I’m seriously concerned about my future ability to deal with finger paint all over my house.
The problem lay in the consistency of the icing, which was too thick to work in the squeeze bottles they suggested. So I messily switched to pastry bags with tiny tips, figured out they were also inadequate because of the icing’s consistency. I thinned it down as best I could, used the stuff I had left after the bags and squeeze bottles were rejected, got out new bags, filled them again, bemoaned my stained hands/countertops/baking-reputation, and watched in horror as my fireworks turned into knobbly, stupid messes.
This recipe is simply not worth it. By the time I sort of got the hang of it, I was out of icing and thoroughly steamed. And when I tasted one of the ones I had done and discovered how disgusting they were, the top of my head almost blew off with a firework display that would have had no trouble showing anyone my damn colors.
They may look passable in the picture, but the frosting never set up (commenters on marthastewart.com believe there is an issue with the recipe, which I’m sure resulted in some poor copyeditor being thrown into the charming Skylands dungeon), so they were untransportable anyway.
I brought some popsicles to the party and swore never to craft-bake again. None of this fussy, fiddly stuff. Let’s get some rustic cornmeal cakes in the July issue next time, you know, like the colonials (probably?) made (I guess?). Let’s bake like Americans, Martha. Come on.