As a food blogger, I often feel guilty about the amount of my food waste. Because let's admit it — it's rather indulgent and unnecessary to have a hobby that involves baking a dessert from scratch every few days. And let's talk about the fact that there are a lot of recipes out there that use odd amounts of ingredients. A third of a can of sweetened condensed milk? Just a few tablespoons of cream? What am I supposed to do with the rest of the ingredients, especially if they're going to perish in a few days? I hate to say it, but it used to be that the remaining quantities will sit in my fridge and simply spoil because I've forgotten about them. Yikes.
These days, I've been trying to be better about reducing my food waste as a whole. I've always been fairly good at dividing up the baked goods between coworkers and friends, making sure that there are no extras that sit around my kitchen uneaten. With leftover ingredients, I've learned to become more mindful and more flexible — that is, whatever ingredients I have on hand will be those that will be used in my baked good for the day, period. This philosophy sometimes creates new challenges and exciting combinations in my baking.
This sweetened condensed milk loaf is an example of that:
A few days ago, I made a delightful, no fuss, strawberry ice cream that unfortunately used odd quantities of ingredients — for instance, the recipe only used 1/2 cup of sweetened condensed milk, which is about a quarter of a regular 14 ounce can. I also ended up with open and unfinished containers of cream and fresh strawberries.
Staring at the three ingredients before me, I initially had varying ideas of what I wanted to make. What if I used the sweetened condensed milk for an iced coffee drink, and the strawberries and cream for a strawberry milkshake? Great ideas, sure, but somehow, that didn't feel right. I felt like the three ingredients were meant to be together.
Peeking in my fridge for some more scraps, I found three leftover eggs. And that's when it occurred to me.
Why don't I just make a cake? No, nothing too fancy or requiring too much prep work. Instead, I was opting for one of those simple, vaguely rustic and yet delicious loaves. You know, the kind that the ladies of yesteryear threw together on a whim with whatever they had in their pantry?
And so this sweetened condensed milk loaf was born:
But the three elements together — that is, the sweetened condensed loaf combined with the macerated strawberries and whipped cream — really just shined. It was the sort of simple dessert that a high-quality restaurant mindful of the seasons would serve. The kind of simple dish that stands as a testament to the fact that all you need are simple, delicious ingredients to make great food.
A couple baker's notes:
- Be sure to use the best strawberries you can find! Choose berries that are smaller and darker red; in general, this signifies that they are riper and will yield more juice and flavor.
- I soaked the strawberries in vanilla and rose water, which is available in the international section of any fancy grocery store like Whole Foods. If you can't find rosewater or don't want to spend that much on a specialty ingredient, you can replace the vanilla and rosewater with 4 teaspoons orange juice or orange liqueur like Grand Marnier.