If I Could You Can!

Many people think I was born knowing how to bake, which is far from the truth. And many people wonder at my penchant for precision. Here could be the reason:I didn't start baking anything until I was 17 and left for college. My first pie, cookie (and I mean cookie not cookies), and cake were all failures. The pie was a lemon meringue whose filling would not thicken, even after (in desperation) I dumped 3/4 of a box of cornstarch into it. This taught me about hard water and its effect on starch gelatinization. Home on Thanksgiving break I thought I'd try something easy and foolproof: the oatmeal cookies on the back of the Quaker Oatmeal container. Instead of cookies it spread and baked into one giant cookie. Could it have been the recipe or the way in which I measure the flour? The cake was at the end of my freshman year when I returned home once again and decided to try my hand at a cake for my parent's anniversary. It was a chocolate cake from a Duncan Hines mix and it came out of the pan in several pieces. This was because back in those days the instructions on the box were to grease the pan and didn't include grease and flour or parchment liner at the bottom. Another lesson I learned from all these disappointing experiences was that there is little more discouraging to a would be baker than early on failure. This could have put an end to my baking. Instead it sparked in me a determination to understand what went wrong and ultimately to convey and share what I had learned so that others would never have to experience the disappointment that I had. My fourth baking experience was such a success it spurred me on. Ironically it was with what most consider to be the most challenging of all baking: a basic white bread loaf. It was from the Joy of Cooking. This book became my model for clarity of instructions and inclusion of all the tips to ensure success. So there you have it--proof that practically anyone can learn to bake given a detailed and accurate recipe and the willingness to follow it!