Thursday, January 17, 2013

THE 2013 BAKING CHALLENGE

I love to cook. I love cookbooks and recipes and making my own dishes. I'm happy to buy new ingredients and am up to the challenge of trying complicated things that take hours to produce and putting my own twist on recipes that I come across. I love cooking and I'm good at it.

A confession: I am not a good baker.

I regularly melt down the morning of my children's birthday parties because the frosting for the cake that I have painstakingly, desperately made from scratch to show them how much I love them because I am crazy has become a curdled goo. I  both burn things and leave them doughy. I get half way through a recipe for a cake, wondering why the batter looks a mess, to find that I should have "lightly" beaten the eggs before adding them to the flour. I pull out the wrong measuring spoon and end up starting completely over because a tablespoon is much much more than a teaspoon.

With cooking, you can often replace an item with what you have on hand or what sounds nice to you (i.e. changing out cilantro for parsley, etc.). You can look in your fridge and pantry and see that you have chicken, some tomatoes, a can of great northern beans, and some greens left over, and whip up dinner. But baking? Not so much. Try replacing all-purpose flour with all whole wheat flour. Or room temperature butter with cold butter or melted butter. These things make a disaster of a cake/bread/pie crust.

Baking is a science. It makes me nervous. I shield away from it (except on those stressful birthdays). I have mastered chocolate chip cookies. And that is all.

But 2013 is the time to face my kitchen foe. I am challenging myself to master baking techniques this year. I've been gifted with several new cookbooks that have wonderful, beautiful baking recipes in them, and I am going to try them and I want to learn how to make them properly. Beautiful cakes with lovely frosting, a perfect pie crust, fluffy biscuits: these are my goals.

Fewer meltdowns, more baked goods. Here's hoping.


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