Everybody has something in their life that they are passionate about -whether it be gaming, reading, dancing, coin collecting, music, or even fishing. Casting back, some of my fondest memories go back to my school holidays when I was a child. It was at those times that I would get to go and visit my grandparents in the countryside. There, I discovered my passion when I was only eight.
My days would be spent standing on a chair next to Gramps watching in awe as he flawlessly kneaded and shaped bread rolls in seconds. When it was my turn, I would have my Nanna flustering around me, tutting at all the mess I was making. She’d be audibly wondering how one child could possibly make so be so messy!
A moment that will forever be ingrained into my mind is the time my grandfather made fruit cake and added liquor to it, where I being the persistent little terror i was, insisted upon trying the brandy. After being assured I wouldn’t like it, I was soon proven wrong when I had a spoonful and gagged. After wiping away the tears (his – from laughter) he cheered me up with the promise of teaching me to make shortbread. It is because of this very incident I will forever remember the perfect quantity ratio, 3:2:1. 3 parts flour, 2 parts butter, 1 part sugar.
From that moment on, every time I went to visit that comforting countryside abode, I’d be baking. Like bread dough left to prove, the older I got the larger my passion for baking grew. I studied home economics in school then went on to get my diploma in Patisserie and confectionery in college. It’s there that I learnt that the perfect way to make a Victoria Sponge Cake was to measure everything equally so that all the ingredients weighed the same, resulting in a flawless end product. I also picked up a few other baking tips and tricks – some of which you may find useful.
- When making chocolate ganache, allow the cream to cool a little before adding chocolate as the fat from the cocoa can separate otherwise.
- Turning food. If a recipe tells you to turn halfway then you should know better than to ignore it. Every oven has a hotspot and by ignoring this step your end product could result in being overdone or burnt edges! Yuck!
- Test your baking powder before using it! Simply add a little bit to hot water. If it bubbles, you’re good to go. If not, toss it and buy new because you’re not going to get much of a rise otherwise.
- Cutting salt out of recipes doesn’t always do you any favors. Sometimes by cutting out the salt you are in fact drastically altering the flavor, making something that was sweet unbearably sweeter or simply making food taste bland.
- Cooling cakes upside down will 9 times out of 10 flatten them out reducing the need to level them off and waste cake. If after doing this you do still feel the need to level the cake off, then keep the leftovers! They make an excellent base for cake pops!
- Resist opening the oven door! Wait until the minimum baking time has passed, or you will release the oven heat and upset the baking time.
- If you’re going to freeze something, then try and freeze it unwrapped, you can always wrap it when it’s frozen. Flash freezing can be highly beneficial as it prevents the products shape being altered and stops the wrapping sticking to the food.
For some of you, breaking bread may be easier than baking bread. Some do it out of necessity, others simply for the pure joy and therapy it provides. Whatever the reason may be, unless you’re my mom (who somehow burns pizza whilst she watches it cook) there are a million different excuses to whack on an apron and get your bake on!