BAKING INTENSIVE SERIES

Apr 2nd, 2008

Last week I had 2 and 3 students here from 9am – 3pm getting intense about basic baking techniques. I think they did fabulously, and it was great for me as we did kick out some product. Starting with baking powder biscuits and piecrust, puff dough and sour dough, and finally angel food cake and gelato; it was a great review for me and a way to remember old times.

To my good fortune, I was first trained as an apprentice in a large-scale bakery. Otherwise I might be like my many of my comrades who defer to the pastry chef for their entire baking repertoire, and mind you I do too for many things. Even Rachel Ray, the Food Network chef admonish herself for steering clear of baking. Why?

I think it is the same for home cooks, too—perhaps lack of experience and maybe even fear! Fear of making piecrust is one comment we hear over and over. When it comes to putting together something that requires flour and ovens, it seems to stop even very accomplished cooks. But in baking, the recipes themselves are carefully written in ratios of ingredients that go together in a certain way to create the desired end result. Maybe it’s the science that scares cooks away from this side of the culinary arts.

Ah, but the satisfaction of turning out simple banana bread when the bananas went too ripe, or getting up on a sleep-in Saturday and making a batch of blueberry muffins for breakfast is so worth the effort. Trust me, I know, I am not about to change anybody’s mind who, like Rachel Ray, has already drawn the line; but I think I might sway a few fence sitters into giving it a try. I can hear Lenore saying don’t even bother to teach me anything mechanical that has to do with the car, because she is not about to start now! So let’s focus on the fence sitters. Think of it as the home economics class that so many schools have dropped from the curriculum. Hmmm… maybe a contributing factor to why cooks don’t bake