Never being the type of person to accept my own imperfections, I have throw down the gauntlet and challenge myself to make the perfect souffle as well as perfect one type of cake, bread and pastry by the end of the year. My “4-Bake Challenge”, as I like to call it, may seem a tad “Half-Baked” (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!) and although I may not be successful, I certainly am persistent in the ironing out this little flaw in my skill set.
Last week I made Chocolate Meringues that despite looking pretty dreadful, were absolutely delicious. That’s not a bad start, I guess? I don’t know what went wrong as I had ‘loosely’ followed a recipe online and it seemed to work up to the point I’d added my sugar to the whisked egg whites, suddenly the airy mix became more of a glossy mousse. Who knows what went wrong, but my meringues came out looking a little flat and whilst the inside was deliciously chewy, the top crust seemed to cave-in. Not my desired result, but I still managed to eat them all!
See? This is why I prefer normal cooking to baking. Baking is a science of exacting, weighing, measuring and skillful blending. Temperature, moisture and gentle technique will dramatically vary the exact same ingredients every time. What the hell is that about? I find it very frustrating at times. Whilst baking is a science, I feel cooking is more of a creative art. I like to take risks when I cook, taste things as I go along and add new ingredients to the mix in search of a higher level of satisfaction. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but what I have learnt is that there is no room for this kind of ‘riffing’ in baking.
I guess my fear of baking makes it easier for me to not only sympathise with those who are a bit scared when it comes to cookery, but actually empathise with them too. Many of the greatest Chefs in the world have confessed that they hate baking and making desserts, because again, it’s a very different type of cooking. I am no Chef, nor would I ever claim to be. I am but a humble home cook, someone who takes pleasure in feeding people and someone who is incredibly passionate about food, ingredients and the ‘magic’ that brings them together, which is cookery.
So anywa, I guess all we can do now is see what happens with my “4-Bake Challenge”, which I will kick-off with my attempt to make a perfect chocolate Souffle and some kind of bread. Who knows exactly which kind, but something rustic with herbs and cheese. I want to try and genuinely perfect these recipes so that I find the confidence to continue making them and experiment with other types of bread and other ingredients too. Next I will try cake and last will be the pastry and already I think I will be going for Choux pastry so I can learn to make Profiteroles in time for Christmas.
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