Tagged With baking

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As a person who keeps at least 1kg of butter on hand at all times, I’m constantly cycling blocks of the stuff between my freezer, fridge and butter dish. Recently, though, I found myself in an unthinkable predicament: I was out of butter. I dug around in the back of my freezer, and behind a half-empty bag of frozen dumplings and some chicken stock, I found one last box.

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If you are a maker of pastry you probably have, at one point of another, lovingly brushed some buttery dough with a beaten egg, or some portion of an egg, never stopping to wonder why. (Or maybe you did wonder why. I’m not in your brain box.)

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While I’m not the biggest fan of unicorn food, there is no denying the beauty of a brightly coloured confection. I don’t have any particular qualms with the little bottles of artificial food colouring but, thanks to Stella Parks, I have recently become a huge fan of colouring sweet things with pulverised, freeze-dried fruit.

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In terms of earthly delights, a fresh, soft cookie with perfectly crispy edges and gooey chocolate chips is extremely hard to compete with. Though there is nothing wrong with making — and eating — an entire baker’s dozen in an evening, you might be the type of person who has “impulse control”, and wishes to enjoy only a cookie or two a day.

In that case, the best gift you can give yourself is a bag of pre-portioned, frozen cookie dough.

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In terms of precision, cooking is a spectrum. There are instances where eyeballing is sufficient — such as deglazing a pan with roughly half a cup of wine — and there are instances where accurate measurements are vital — such as in baking finicky pastry or most recipes from Serious Eats.

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Just as there are "process" killers and "product" killers, I like to think that there are process bakers and product bakers. Process people take comfort and joy in the execution of their favourite hobby, whereas product people are in it for the result. Like Jeffrey Dahmer, I’m a product person, but our goals are very different. Dahmer wanted a comatose sex slave; I just want some brownies.

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If you have an oven with a convection setting - meaning it is equipped with a fan that circulates the hot air around the food - it may be tempting to use it on your cakes, cookies and biscuits to help things cook "more evenly". However, according to Patron Saint of Good Baked Things, Stella Parks (AKA The Brave Tart), this can lead to non-optimum results.

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If you've happened to visit Pinterest in the last five years or so, you have no doubt seen a recipe or 10 for some iteration of three-ingredient, no-knead bread. These recipes are popular for good reason. Not only are these loaves extremely impressive for the amount of work they demand, they are excellent vehicles for any odds and ends you wish to rid your fridge of, from a handful of cheese to lonely fruits and vegetables.

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Sometimes you need a reasonable number of cupcakes - like a dozen - but sometimes you need many more than that. Unless you have a whole mess of wire racks, and a bunch of counter space, cooling them down can pose a bit of a problem. Luckily, you can employ most ironing boards which, as Reddit user Something Else points out, are giant wire racks.

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Baking beautiful bread requires the skillful manipulation of three big, messy variables: technique, equipment, and ingredients. Poor technique accounts for most subpar results, but a sudden change in kitchen conditions or ingredient availability can throw even a seasoned baker for a loop. If your bread has started acting up for seemingly no reason, your water might just be the culprit.

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I love a good shopping centre pretzel. Soft, slightly chewy, with a bunch of salt and that trademark hint of bitterness - few snacks are as comforting and nostalgic. I also love a good pretzel dog, pretzel bite or cheese-stuffed pretzel situation. I do not, however, love making dough.

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Being the son of a baker and, in a former life, a scientist, there are a lot of Universal Forces dictating that I should have a talent for baking. I'm not very good at baking. On top of that, I'm not into all those tears and painful pauses you see on Masterchef, either.

That's why I am stoked that Netflix has produced Nailed It, a TV show about people that aren't very good at baking. It is hilarious.

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Dessert and cocktails both come after dinner, but combining them is a tricky business indeed. The best boozy desserts neatly split the difference between sugary treats and nightcaps; the worst are indistinguishable from mild physical assault. Sadly, the latter is far more common than the former - but it doesn't have to be.

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For better or worse, cooking will always involve a certain amount of measuring. Usually these measurements are either by mass or volume, but sometimes dimensions come into play, and I am terrible at estimating dimensions.