Top 100 Cake Blog

Top 100 Cake Blog

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fearless Baking (and Living)

The best baking advice is often the best life advice:  Plunge ahead, do not overthink and jump off the cliff with joy (even if your eyes are squeezed shut).

Just as things can go wrong in life, baking is filled with its own landmines.
For example, do you know how many ways you can screw up a simple cake? 
It might not rise properly, the center might sink, the sides might collapse, the texture may be too tough or tacky.  It might also be crumbly, or too dry, or have tunnel-like holes or streaks of uneven color or its surface may be peaked or cracked.  The causes?  Oh, the baking powder was old or the butter was too soft (or not soft enough), the sugar was too course, the batter was over-mixed (or under-mixed), the oven was too hot (or too cold.) or the batter did not contain enough fat (or too much fat.) 

These are just a few pitfalls, all beautifully articulated in Great Cakes by Carole Walter, a lovely book that Rochelle, mother of my dear friend Jay, send me as a gift last week.  

Although I've created many a cake wreck and I'm grateful for Ms. Walter's trouble-shooting advice, I tend to not intellectualize baking.  If I thought of everything that could go wrong, I'd never turn on the oven.

And I learned another lesson in fearless baking last week when I saw a pie-making video featuring writer Joyce Maynard.   Instead of the beautiful and well behaved pie dough I expected (Joyce has been making pies for years), I was shocked to see a crust that was well, shaggy, and that frankly looked much worse than mine.  But where I saw imperfection, Joyce saw "future flakiness."  And she confidently put the whole thing together in a few minutes and you know it was going to be delicious.

It was 29 years ago today that DH and I jumped off the cliff with joy (and eyes squeezed shut) as we wed after knowing each other only a few months. And despite everything that *could* have gone wrong in marriage (but didn't), we're still holding hands.


  1. Congratulations, 29 years, you should be proud!! I hope you had a wonderful day.
    I never think of a recipe not working, and if it does, we still get to eat the evidence. Can't get better than that.

  2. Happy Anniversary! Isn't it curious how certain things we may think are disasters are the bests things some others have ever eaten?

  3. @Mary Ellen: Thanks, we had an amazing day, wandering around Manhattan and bumping into some pretty spectacular situations (though none involved cake!).
    @Tug's Girl: Thanks, and that happens more often than not! Funny.

  4. Suasan, you've been tagged. You don't have to do anything but I wanted to let you know.

  5. Mrs. Ed: Thanks so much and congrats on the honor bestowed upon your blog!