As one of the many people learning how to cope during the pandemic, I tried my fair share of hobbies. As a result, I’ve done the sourdough phase (using your own homemade starter can be scary), the at-home gyms (my dumbbells are now holding our couch together), and I’ve adopted a fair share of plants that are somehow staying alive (thanks for the tips Chantel!).
However, one hobby I’ve taken to has been baking. Not only has it been therapeutic for me and helped me de-stress during the long workdays, but it’s also allowed me to peruse amazing cookbooks that have beautiful recipes of amazing desserts in them. But, of course, there’s a certain sense of chemistry and procedure to follow to help make sure your end product not only looks good but tastes good too.
So here goes my baking appreciation post.
There is a science to making sure that baking follows the process well. When you’re making frosting, and it says that your butter needs to be room temperature before you add it to your eggs, that means don’t melt it because you’ll curdle your eggs or don’t pull it right out of the fridge. After all, it can cause the other ingredients to separate. It doesn’t mean that you won’t make something that tastes good, but it will affect how it’s applied to your cake. Similar to design, skipping a step or trying to create a shortcut for your process might cause you to take a significant part out accidentally. Treat your recipe like a task flow for your cake.
Don’t judge your baked goodies halfway through mixing things. A few times, I made some buttercream frosting (Swiss, French, and Italian, mind you! French is probably my favorite). I had melted down halfway through mixing the butter with sugar; I had melted down; I was worried I ruined it by overheating and separating the ingredients. However, instead of throwing it out and starting over, I just kept mixing for a few more minutes, chilled the bowl, and mixed some more. Eventually, my frosting turned out delicious, and now I have too much of it in my freezer. So stick with it and don’t judge your work prematurely.
The first time I made focaccia, I didn’t realize that you could overmix or undermix your dough. When I pulled it out of the oven and saw how flat it was, I realized that I overmixed it and caused it to become tough and chewy. Did I give up on making bread entirely after that? No, because I love gluten. I tried again, experimented with timing, got accustomed to what the consistency should be and what to expect. It’s important to remember that your failings don’t mean that it’s the end of the road for you, and it’s more of a learning experience than anything else. Trust me when I say that I’m glad I stuck with making my focaccia because now I’m obsessed with making kalamata olive bread.
As is custom for recipe sites, I’m providing a recipe of one of my more recent favorite desserts at the very bottom of the post. I used to work at a french bakery that had this, and I was obsessed with bread pudding.
This recipe calls for short dough, custard, and the assembly. I baked this in a 9×13 dish, so I recommend doubling the custard or putting it in a smaller sized dish if you want a taller/more dense bread pudding.