Friday, January 28, 2011

Baking Myths (or What My Mama Taught Me)

My mother is a baker. I will never get sick of saying that. Some people may love saying their mother is an accomplished lawyer, doctor, accountant, etc. I, however, am so incredibly proud to have a baker as a mother.

Pretty much everyone's mother bakes, but can yours make a bouquet of flowers out of icing? Does she have maraschino cherries on hand at all times? Did you grow up not knowing that Chips Ahoy cookies even existed until you were forced to eat that at a friend's house? I doubt it. My mother went to baking school and she taught me everything I know about baking. Which is why I would like call bullshit on a couple of baking myths.

If you eat cookie dough or cake batter you will get salmonella poisoning from the raw eggs

That is ridiculous. That is something some woman who tripled her chin eating cookie dough made up so other women would live in fear of partaking in one of the most joyous parts of baking - licking the spoon clean. I'm not saying you should make a habit of eating raw eggs or choose cookie dough as a meal (though I have), but there is absolutely no reason you cannot eat raw cookie dough and cake batter. I have been anxiously awaiting the beaters from my mother's KitchenAid mixer since I was a small (abeilt incredibly pudgy) child. I eat at least a half dozen cookies in raw dough every time I make a batch. If you can handle the calories, you can handle the eggs.

You must be 100% exact with all baking measurements or your baked good will explode and/or taste like dirt

Okay, I'll be honest, baking is much more exact than cooking. You don't see a whole lot of "dash of this" or "add salt to taste" in baking recipes. However, people act as if without measuring cups, bakeries would shut down, birthday parties would be cancelled due to lack of cake and everyone would just have to eat Oreos for the rest of their sad, treat-less lives. Let me tell you a secret- I bake without measuring cups all the time. And you know what? My mom approves. Do you know how many times I have misplaced the cursed 3/4 cup measuring cup? Or the whole damn ring of cups, which is meant to be convenient but really just results in the loss of all the tools instead of just one? I have eyed many a measurement and I have never had anything explode or disappoint the hungry audience. Of course, my mom taught me how to do that and I definitely kept her on speed dial for these occasions, but the point is- it can be done. 

You cannot bake without the proper tools

While you are going to need some basics, you definitely do not need top of the line stuff. I was spoiled with my mom's fancy baking tools, the ever-present 10 pound bag of flour, the freezer full of butter and above all, her KitchenAid Mixer (insert photo of me hugging that beautiful piece of machinery here). However, I grew up, moved out and had to work with what I had. In college, I whipped up a batch of chocolate chip cookies with some dollar store measuring cups, 1 wooden spoon, a cereal bowl and a Halloween punch bowl. They were delicious.

I also conquered Cookie Day 2010 in my tiny Argentine kitchen. I made 300 cookies in a kitchen no bigger than a closet (seriously, see my Apartment Tour video). I mixed those babies by hand. Here's a list of the tools I used:

  • 1 shallow but wide salad bowl
  • 2 deep but narrow plastic bowls, both of which cracked during the mixing process
  • 2 soup spoons
  • 1 teaspoon
  • 1 plastic pitcher with vague measurement markings
  • 2 flimsy baking sheets
This was the result:
300+ Cookies. 1 Day. Limited supplies.

So, in conclusion, I call bullshit on the aforementioned baking myths. My mama taught me well. However, there is one thing she was never able to teach me and that is how to properly decorate with icing. 
Sorry Mom, some things aren't hereditary and cannot be taught.

Anyone else love to bake? Or perhaps just love to eat the tasty treats other people make?

No comments:

Post a Comment