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Baking thoughts

Pizza

Pizza is a wonderfully collaborative food.  In our tiny kitchen (about 3’X5′), pizza is one of the only things that gets made as a real team effort; there’s really not enough space for two people, but this is one food that requires two distinct talents – baking (to make the dough – that’s my specialty) and cooking (to make the toppings – definitely not my specialty).

Find the cake

I’m searching for a job right now and it’s not much fun. I don’t want to make the cold calls, the warm calls or even the hot calls necessary to land the job of my dreams…which is crazy, because I’m looking for the job of my dreams, so shouldn’t I be excited about this challenge? And it’s not that I am lazy – not at all. I routinely spend 10+ hours a day working at a job that I’m trying to replace. And weekends. In fact, my current job is eating up all my time – my precious time. The time of my life. So why am I not spending every moment that I am awake, every moment I can spare – this moment now – in the pursuit of that new job? That’s all that there is between me and it; my own reluctance to push forward. Any why? Well, because finding a new job is hard and I don’t really know what I’m doing. But wait!! Didn’t I just make a cake that was really hard? Did I know how to make that cake? Didn’t I say that I had never made a cake like that successfully before? So what’s the difference?

Goooood bread…very good bread!

At last I have made a freaking decent loaf of bread.  Where most of my efforts have turned out something like this:

Daring Bakers Challenge August 2008

Ok – éclairs – go!

This month’s challenge was Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé, a challenge posed to Los Bakers de la daring by Tony Tahhan and MeetaK.

No problem I thought. Piece of cake. Or piece of puff. I thought…

One of my favorite things in life (always in retrospect because when it’s happening, it usually sucks at least a little bitty bit) is when I think something is one thing, and I’m proven wrong. W-R-O-N-G. Keeps me humble, which is not something the women in my family are known for. So it’s always good, and in the end, always funny…

Bad bread! Bad, bad bread!

What am I supposed to be doing right now?  Working.  What do I want to be doing?  Almost anything except, but I’d really like to be making some bread.  I love to bake, which is the point of this blog (aside from having a place to put my daring baker posts), and because I am a perfectionist (the secret shame of all true bakers I think – we’re control freaks), I tend to skip over the not-so-lovely projects that have been spawned from my oven.  My ever-so-lovely husband reminded me the other day that we learn more from our mistakes than our successes (ok, he didn’t say that really he said “did you put your bread on the blog?” and I said “the one that sucked?” and he said “yeah, you should put that one up there too”) and he’s right.  Unfortunately, my little perfectionist pea-brain stepped in and let me throw away the flat flat flat dough before I took a picture of it, so I can’t show how spectacularly bad it was, but it was flat like the earth was before it was round and it felt like it weighed 10 lbs, which is impossible because there was only a pound of ingredients.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t put enough yeast in the mix, which can be tricky when you’re working with wild yeast, but I’ve been so lucky with the stuff in the last few months that I didn’t consider the stage it was in, whether I’d fed it enough, etc.  I just measured it out and hoped for the best…

Julia Child’s Birthday

It was Julia Child’ birthday Friday and we celebrated by making her excellent Filet de Poisson Bercy aux Champignons (the recipe here is blurry, but you should really buy a copy of the book).

My first time

I love baking. I’ve always loved it. I started when I was maybe 9 or 10 and got it in my head that I wanted to make a pie. I didn’t even like pie but I wanted one. I told my step-mom, thinking she’d get me a Hostess pie or something, and instead we bought all the ingredients to make an apple pie from scratch. That was a new word to me. Scratch. I had no idea what it meant. She was very apprehensive about the whole thing; having never made a pie, I had no idea how difficult people thought it was, so I just went ahead and did it. I don’t remember if she told me how nervous she was – I don’t think she did. It didn’t matter. The pie turned out just fine. I can’t remember if it was perfect, I don’t remember how it looked (I wish I had a picture) or tasted, but if you ask my step-mom about it, she’ll tell you about how I wanted to make a pie and she was sure it would be a horrible disappointment and it turned out perfectly the very first time. I’ve never been afraid of baking since then. I’ve made some pretty dismal things – you have to if you want to try hard stuff. But I’ve always been pretty sure that whatever I tried would work out. And if it didn’t, I’ve always blamed the recipe and the equipment, not my lack of skill. It’s the one area of my life where I have supreme confidence. Even when I see other people doing it better than I do it, I’m still not intimidated. I just assume they’ve had more practice and better tools. I’m trying these days to bring that into all arenas of my life. I was talking to my husband about it the other day, sort of wondering aloud why I felt I could do this one thing so well and keep going, even when I get discouraged – what made me know it was going to be fine and see it through to the end. He pointed out that there was cake at the end, and that I really like cake. He would have to go an make it all real simple, wouldn’t he?