A good cook can as easily make a crummy cake as a good lover can screw up a relationship. Cooking skills don't necessarily carry over into the realm of baking. And sometimes a sexy cuddle should stay exactly that, no strings attached.
In cooking, there’s more room for error. Anyone with enough enthusiasm, a decent palate, maybe a glass of wine or a shot of mezcal, can dive into cooking with wild abandon and end up with something delicious. An olive oil-finish, some squirts of lemon, a sprinkle of Maldon sea salt can go a long way to save a dish.
Baking on the other hand is a science. There’s just no rushing through the chemistry and math that transform wet brown batter into an irresistible chocolate soufflé. At restaurants, I’ll often hear friends scoff at their food and say, “I can make this at home! Psssh.” But I’ve never heard anyone tell me that she or he is going to recreate the chocolate babka from Breads Bakery. That’s because baking requires a tremendous amount of studying and practicing. And humility. And an acceptance that the first try if far from being the last. But back to that earlier analogy: Baking, like a relationship, takes work.
I suck at baking. Once, I attempted to make croissants from scratch. For three days, I’d jump out of bed at 5:30 A.M., salivating as I rolled and folded the laminated dough, dreaming of the warm, buttery crescents. By day four, it was time to bake the croissants. This was my first attempt, but I was already expecting Parisian patisserie-level perfection. But the croissants came out cakey and dense. Zero flakiness. They were good enough to be biscuits but not croissants. Hadn’t I followed directions? Or measured the flour correctly? Wasn’t I careful with the dough, like a first-time mom is with her newborn? I couldn’t pinpoint the problem, not with only one notch on my belt. Anything could have contributed to my dough’s undoing, like inferior ingredients to the uncalibrated oven to Mercury stuck in retrograde.Read More