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Baking With Confidence

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Labor Day morning, I didn’t feel particularly great, and had no idea what to make for breakfast.  We were out of a few key ingredients for certain recipes, but I happened across a basic muffin recipe that sounded nice.  A nearby recipe had a cheesy biscuit recipe that the kids enjoyed, so I took inspiration from there to use up the last of our cheddar before it got too moldy.  A fine grater turned three or four tablespoons of cheese into nearly a cup while I melted a bit less butter than called for.  On a whim, I stirred most of the cheese straight into the hot butter, mixing the remainder into the dry ingredients.  The end result was very nice; slightly savory throughout, with a few dots of yellow cheese in each muffin.  If I do it again, I’ll probably decrease the sugar, too, and perhaps add an herb for extra flavor.

Only later did it occur to me that it takes confidence and skill to modify recipes like that, and have them turn out great.  Baking in particular can be sensitive to the input; once it’s in the oven, there’s very little you can do to patch a mistake.  Even so, I’ve been experimenting in similar ways with my basic bread recipe, and rarely does it go horribly awry; yes, some ideas work better than others, but the result has been good enough for toast or sandwiches.  (Tip: Amaranth needs to be soaked until soft, before getting added to the dough.)

In some ways, though, I’m still very conservative.  I don’t really know the boundaries of even my most-used recipes; I haven’t kept a written log of experiments, and haven’t really tried to go beyond what I feel would work.  Beyond those favorites, I have rarely strayed beyond the book for any recipe.  I have no idea what possessed me to do so now.

This train of thought has given me even more respect for the Food Network contestants, many of whom signed up for the kind of challenge that pits their skills against new, unusual, and/or sub-par ingredients.  I’ve had a crazy dream about winning Chopped through the abuse of infinite undo magic, but wouldn’t have a prayer without such an advantage.

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Written by eswald

4 Sep 2012 at 10:53 am

Posted in Food, Lifestyle

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