It has just been too hot in FW to turn on the oven for any extended period of time but the seasons are a changin’ and now is the time to get the cookbooks out, refresh the spice jars, place an order to King Arthur Flour and start baking. I made kolaches and caramel candy over the week-end. The kolaches were inspired by my Czech heritage and a recipe included in Central Market’s new cookbook celebrating their 20th year in business. Our friend, Babs Rodriquez, is credited as the lead writer so pick up a few copies for holiday gifts. I am sure she will autograph my copy if I bribe her with a few of my cinnamon apple cider caramel. For those of you new to baking, here are a few tips I wish someone had shared with me before I had so many failed attempts at this craft.
1. Invest in an instant read digital thermometer – worth every penny!
2. Yeast needs sugar and water at 105 degrees to bloom. Check recipes and modify if the recipes suggests another method. I am always skeptical of a different approach.
3. Check for freshness of your ingredients as items expire and it makes a difference in the outcome of your baking product. You can’t lose with King Arthur Flour and America’s Test Kitchen for baking recipes. Other recipes on Pinterest are often flawed because they haven’t been tested or vetted. I also trust Pioneer Woman website.
4. Equipment matters so invest in a good rolling-pin, cutting tools and measurement devices. RM taught me that often the correct tool and quality ingredients are the key to an outstanding product.
5. Don’t take shortcuts with baking and read the recipe to the end before embarking.
6 . Practice and share with your neighbors and work mates your techniques and your baked goods.
7. Enjoy the process and embrace your failures as they will happen even when you get to a mastery level. RM worked on a wood-turning project all week-end only to have it break through on the bottom in the final sanding. He hadn’t had that happen in several years and considered it a rookie mistake. We all have our rookie moments even the pros. Bakers out there and there are some great ones from Kansas and beyond…. share with us your tricks of the trade.
Essential tools. I like this rolling-pin because RM made it and there are no handles to get in the way.