A Beginner’s Guide to Baking
I’ve been told many a time that baking is intimidating…
There’s something about the precision of it all that appeals to my inner obsessiveness. It’s very specific, but don’t take that to mean rigid. There is a lot of freedom in baking. Not, necessarily in the dry or wet ingredients (you can ruin cookies by adding too much baking soda or not enough flour, trust me, I know) but in the flavor. The flavor is where you is where you can express your individuality, I’ll come back to this. Don’t let me forget. Seriously.
We will will use chocolate chip cookies as an example. Chocolate cookies. A classic, dare I say ICONIC recipe. Simple. Straight forward. Easy. Right? You’ve been to the store and seen those chocolate chips in the yellow bag with a recipe conveniently on the back right? It’s so easy and fool proof they said, it’s so easy, a kid can do it they said. No. There is no recipe that I have ruined more in all my years of baking than that one.
And I will go one step further, there is no other type of cookie that I have ruined more than chocolate chip. There is an intricate dance between salt and chocolate, and since I don’t like chocolate, I struggle with this. Yes, you read that right, I don’t like chocolate, it doesn’t do anything for me. Let’s casually slide past that… and get back to the cookie situation.
So earlier I mentioned flavor. While you should follow baking recipes as accurately as possible, there is freedom in the flavor arena. What do you mean by flavor? I’m glad you asked. Most chocolate chip cookies don’t have cinnamon, mine do though. It’s my signature flavor. Instead of using vanilla extract, maybe use almond extract, or butter extract. We will dive deeper in to this as we start exploring recipes. But for now, rest assured you have more freedom than you think.
To be an effective baker, you need some basic tools and a lot of patience. Oodles and oodles of patience (that is an actual unit of measurement in case you were wondering!). Baking takes time and it cannot be rushed. Rushed = Ruined.
I have a kitchenAide stand mixer, and ya’ll it’s a game changer. But… it’s not a necessity. Before the stand mixer, I kicked it old school with a wooden spoon and elbow grease. Because I’m cranking out goodies on a weekly basis, I needed one. I actually asked for it for Christmas 2015. I am all about appliances as gifts, please and thank you! You can also use a hand mixer if you don’t want to go the wooden spoon route. They work, are affordable, and usually easy to find. Like this one, on Amazon Here, and it’s a Prime item (you’re welcome)!
Next, in the tool department you’ll need some mixing bowls, a spatula, a cookie sheet, and a cooling rack. You NEED a cooling rack. Believe me. I have mixed feelings about Silpats (silicone baking pads). While I appreciate what they do for the even cooking of things, I just have a really giant cookie sheet that is difficult to cover.
The moral of the story here is that, it’s not as intimidating as you once thought. Find a recipe, maybe the one on the back of the yellow bag, and give it a try. The key to becoming confident in the kitchen, whether it’s cooking or baking, is success. When you make your first item and it’s eatable, you feel invincible.
So that’s it. Start small or big, your choice. You will fail. That I can guarantee. But it’s ok! The value behind failures is that you can learn and grow.
Let me know in the comments section of your worst baking fail!