Thursday is my free day (OK, it's not exactly a free day, but it's a day in which the only boss to whom I report is myself, which is almost as good). Accordingly, it's plump with possibility, a ripening persimmon, a balloon engorging on the end of a hose. On Thursday, anything can happen.
What actually happens is a slightly lazier version of Wednesday, in which I do all the things I squeezed around the workday the previous day, but I do more of each at a slower pace with more frequent breaks for tea. There's also more checking of email, more staring into space, and a soupcon of additional cleaning. But there remains the idea that I could deviate from my routine, that I could take a left turn and find myself in wild, uncharted territory, that I could bake, for God's sake. It's seductive.
Yesterday I went and did it. I seized the day, or at least the oven dial, and made caramel apple upside down muffins, Melissa Clark's Wednesday NYT brainwave. There was some cutting of apples, some melting of butter, some fearless substituting. Thirty minutes later...
The truth is, they were just OK. This is possibly because I am a disastrous baker, a slapdash measurer, an unrepentant substituter and approximater. There are bakers and there are folks who cut diagonally across the grass to get wherever-the-heck two seconds faster, and I am a corner cutter. Why hew to a recipe when you can guesstimate?
(I am halfway of the opinion that bakerlines is congenital, like handedness or a walleye. Yes, I wish that I were the kind of person who ran around trying to find the 1/4 cup measure instead of underfilling the 1/3 cup measure and muttering a couple of Hail Marys, but truth, and laziness, will out.)
Buy also -and here's the crux of it, for me- the anticipation, the process of dreaming up the muffins and insisting upon the time to make them and watching them come together, was just more fun. By the time all the little muffins had been overturned onto the cooling rack, by the time they were ready to be forked and munched, my Thursday was over. It was time to make dinner, to throw together a quick meal before schlepping to a three hour choir rehearsal, racing home, hurrying to bed. My time was no longer my own, and so the possible, like every souflee I will ever attempt, collapsed.