I've been wanting to blog about my recent interest in baking for a while, well if you can call three years recent, that is. But I've always wanted to talk about the joy that baking brings me and how much I enjoy it. The calories, not so much.
By nature, I am a rather random person. I don't function very well when neatness and precision is necessary. I like to think of myself as a big-picture person. Not for me the analysing of every detail and the nitpicking and the perfectionism. But it is precisely this side of me that baking, the exacting science that it is, challenges and I actually revel in it. There's something about creaming exactly 100 gms of butter with 50 grams of sugar and mixing in 300 gms of flour. Measuring, measuring, measuring, beating, whipping to create a cake that is so much more than the sum of its disparate parts. The exacting nature of baking allows me to put my vagaries aside and focus with a 100% on the job at hand that pleases me. For someone who constantly has at least 5 different topics on my mind to think about, it pushes me to concentrate on what I'm doing and gives me serenity. For that hour or so I'm in the kitchen.
Which is not to say I enjoy the everyday dal-Chawla type of cooking. I bake because I know i don't have to do it everyday. It's a good to do, not a must do and if I had to do it everyday, I'd probably stick my head in the oven instead and kill myself. Which is why I guess it's time I give my mother more credit for putting food on the table every single day, rain or shine. Also, sifting. Sifting flour is the devil and the one job I absolutely detest. No matter how hard I try or how many different sifters I buy, I still loathe it.
So what have I learned so far then? That looks aren't everything. Nigella Lawson's recipes look delicious but never ever turn out right, for me at least. Butter and sugar creamed together is the most delicious food ever and I have to hold myself from eating it straight out of the mixing bowl every single time. That's there's something very satisfying about presenting food to people and hearing them 'oooh' and 'aah' and even more pleasing, hear them ask for seconds - music to a cook's ears! That raw cookie dough is not as delicious as its made out to be, in fact I find it downright revolting. There, Sue me.
So far I've attempted -
*Nigel Slater's modestly titled 'My very good brownies' which have turned out perfect every time I've made them
*Chocolate chip cookies - Thin crisp cookies are the way to go.
*Oatmeal raisin cookies - Semi triump. Somehow managed to burn the raisins the very first time I made them. Haven't dared to try them again since.
*Date and Walnut Cake - Very very good. Next time a little less dates though. Mostly because mincing 200 gms of dates finely took 2 hours of my life and I'm still resentful of that fact
*Bread pudding - Another family favourite and so easy to do.
*Pigs in blankets - Unmitigated disaster and yet another Nigella Lawson recipe that didn't work for me.
*Granola - Made a giant batch as a giveaway for a very health-conscious cousin's bachelorette. The feedback I've heard has been very good. Since I haven't heard any news of anyone else being poisoned I'm going to take it that the rest have enjoyed it too!
I have many many recipes bookmarked and I'm not sure what I'll try next - White chocolate and cranberry cookies, pineapple upside down cake, date rolls, lasagna. But I know that whatever I try, I'll definitely enjoy it, end-result notwithstanding.