I’m Elizabeth Edwardsen, a writer, editor, mother, knitter, sewer, crafter, dog lover… Now, I’ve decided to learn to bake. How hard can it be? Um, kind of hard when you don’t know what you’re doing.
Why I’m Learning to Bake
I’m a good cook. The kind of cook that dinner guests e-mail the next day for recipes, which invariably have my comments – I left out X or use some Y if you’ve got it.
Then it got cold in Maine and I needed a reason to turn on the oven. Then the economy got colder than my frosty lawn, resulting in a serious case of nesting.
Finally I rediscovered an ancient family heirloom. Just kidding. I found my late mother’s well-worn Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book. The binding is gone and the cover and and several of its 463 pages are stained. I didn’t detect any flour drifting from the pages. Mom wasn’t a baker, either. And if there’s a family heirloom in the kitchen bookcase, it would have to be Mom’s old copy of Peg Bracken’s I Hate to Cook Book.
But there is a baker in my family tree. My Aunt Trudy won the cookbook after taking second prize in a bakeoff at the 1952 Great Barrington, Mass., Fair for her Chiffon Cake. I remember hearing that Aunt Trudy gave mom the iconic red cookbook because she’d already won several.
I’ll put this prize to good use. After all, who better than Betty Crocker to guide this neophyte baker?
I’ll use other more modern resources, too. The people at Cooks Illustrated, superb instructors and testers of anything to do with cooking, have oodles of information on their web site and in their magazine. They even have a baking book, The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book.
I think my recent divorce and a ridiculous phase in my former marriage when I agreed to give up cooking probably has something to do with this project. (Don’t worry, I won’t ruminate on *that one!)
So, by the time this adventure is through, I hope to be able to bake several kinds of bread, to make a pie with crust that doesn’t come out of a box, to throw together pizza dough, cinnamon rolls or muffins or cookies or gasp-inducing chocolate cake. I plan to not have a panic attack if someone asks me to contribute to a bake sale. I don’t plan on offering to make wedding cakes, but I do hope to bake a birthday cake or two down the road.
I think there will be some flour dusting the page of Mom’s old Betty Crocker Cook Book.
Why blog about Learning to Bake?
For accountability. I’ll be less likely to throw in the oven mitts at the first sign of baking disaster if I’m blogging.