This is part of my new hobby series, all about exploring new hobbies. Because bucket list items don’t just have to be one-time things. They can be a big part of cultivating your own personal growth – check out my post before, on Tea!
It’s cold. You’re bored and don’t want to go outside. But what’s there to do when the weather outside is frightful, your car is buried in a foot of snow, and you’ve already melted your mind on a Netflix binge?
Baking! Anyone can bake. Baking is a science – so really, if you follow the recipe, you should be able to make a pretty passable chocolate chip cookie. Trust me – being able to cook or bake is a great skill and hobby.
In high school, I became renowned among my friends for my chocolate cake cookies, and my cupcakes that had Malibu rum flavored frosting (just a teaspoon! Totally non-alcoholic, I swear). I’ve made gingerbread men, rainbow cookies, a Easter Lamb cake, scones, pies of every kind, puff pastry, rainbow cake, donuts, and pretzels. And you can too!
But seriously. Baking kicks butt. You’ll always have a gift at the ready, for the holidays, a party, just whenever. Baking, for some reason, really impresses people. Once if it looks pretty, and twice over if it tastes awesome (aim for tasty over pretty, though). I absolutely suck at every other type of craftiness, but I can bake! You’ll feel like Walter White when you pull a delicious Baked Alaska out of your oven.
Start off by EXACTLY following recipes. But throw our your mixes. Those are for the uncultured masses. Follow recipes, and go for more and more intense ones. Slowly, you can start experimenting. One thing to note is not to replace/substitute everything so that it’s a completely different recipe. One of my dear friends in high school was fond of doing this – she made brownies once that more resembled sticky bits of tar. (But we ate them anyway, because we loooooved her)
And I’m not exempt from cooking mistakes either. Oh lord, nope. My mom will pretty much eat anything I make, no matter how awful it is (because she loooooves me). Or, well, there’s the dogs, if it’s not something covered in chocolate.
But one time, we were having friendsgiving in college. I decided to make pumpkin pie! Easy-peasy. Well. Usually. I sort of, kind of, forgot the sugar. I think my friends ended up just pouring sugar right on it and eating it like that.
So, don’t be afraid of mistakes. Which is good advice for how you approach life in general.
Now, if you’re me, you’re already starting off on Advanced Mode. Gluten-free and allergies are game changers. I know people allergic to eggs, to corn, to sugar, to soy, to apples, to everything under the sun, and probably the sun itself. Luckily, there are a zillion blogs out there for every allergy. Let nothing get in the way of your baking mission.
And I’ll give you my secret about cooking gluten-free. Buy a little kitchen scale. Trust me – people in Europe do it! And don’t you want to be classy as Europeans? You can’t just use one gluten-free flour and substitute it cup for cup. That’s a good way for your cookies to come out of the oven like hockey pucks. You either need a mix, or to make your own, which is usually what I do.
A cup is 140g, so usually I weigh out 90g of white/brown rice flour, and the remaining 50g should be a starch, like potato, tapioca, or corn. Then follow the rest of the recipe as usual. What’s awesome is that many recipe sites are starting to write their recipes with weight instructions.
You can play around with other flours and add-ins. It seems like anything can be made into a flour. Sorghum, quinoa, almonds, pebbles (well, maybe not). Xanthin gum acts like gluten, so it’s good for breads. Coconut flour is super high in protein, but it’s a thirsty flour, and needs more liquids and eggs to compensate. Try everything! Experiment!