“I can’t bake for shit,” said approximately 90% of the people I’ve ever spoken to. And also myself. Several times. Because I can’t!
But that is a LIE. A Lie perpetuated by the Media, who want us all to be sad (and probably also a little bit to continue contributing our cash dollars to the economy by buying weird cake from Wal*Mart instead of doing it ourselves.)
Not even gonna lie–Wal*Mart cake is incredibly convenient, though, and their cheesecake definitely tastes like it is made out of nine packs of cream cheese and a bunch of sugar, and if that is not what cheesecake is supposed to taste like, I need to have higher standards. So someone should let me know.
Anyway, baking is not as hard as it seems, so I figure we might as well all figure this out together. Here are some tips about how to at least start learning how to make baked goods that won’t poison you or make you sad.
- Don’t be precious until you know what you’re doing. You know what I mean. There are those people who decide they want to learn how to bake and go out and buy a kitchen scale and a bunch of parchment paper, or whatever, and start measuring everything out by the microgram. Don’t do that. Measuring cups have worked for better bakers than you are now, and you do not have the time to try to be all scientific about this shit.
- You can fix things! You can. If you are making pie filling, or something like that, and you add too much water, you can just cook it a little bit longer (and keep stirring it a lot while you do) so some of the water cooks off. It might be a little soggier, a little mushier, than you were expecting, but it’s still going to taste awesome. And anyone who complains about the consistency of your pie does not deserve free pie. Drop them like they’re hot.
- Speaking of hot things: oven mitts? Not just suggestions! Springform pans? Tricky!
- You can buy pre-made pie crust. It tastes fine. I know, I know. But shhh. When you’re ready to Julia Child this shit, you will; but pie crust is really hard, apparently, and I’m intimidated as hell by it, so the pre-made kind that comes in a roll is still totally fine with me.
- Read the recipe before you start making the thing. Baking is more or less the only thing where I am really dedicated to the perusal of recipes, but do it. A lot. I have this weird thing in my head where no matter how many times I read the recipe I still end up putting in tablespoons instead of teaspoons, or whatever, but see above re: fixable.
- Slightly less sugar than whatever is called for is usually a good idea. Also slightly more cinnamon and nutmeg, if they are called for. Cinnamon rarely hurts as a general addition.
- You can’t just double the chocolate chips or the nuts or the dried fruit or whatever and hope for the best, especially in cake. Especially in cake. Especially in cake. Especially in cake. I will tell you that story one day, but not today.
- Pies are actually really easy to make. So is cake. Frosting is also a lot easier to make than it seems like it would be.
- Oh my god this is probably the most important thing ever remember to soften the butter. It’s not impossible if you don’t, but it takes like a million times longer, and you will be filled with ancient elderly regret.
- Generally speaking, when the recipe says things should be a certain temperature? It matters. In particular, adding cold liquids to something that contains melted/softened/blended butter will make the butter congeal again, which is, again, not unfixable, but takes some working over.
That’s all I got, folks. Talking about food has made me hungry, so I’m going to go make some.