Favorite Ingredients, Food

Variations of Vanilla

Since I have started to really take an interest in baking, I have unearthed a whole new world of ingredients that I never knew existed. This is how you know you really love something and that it is a passion. I truly get butterflies in my stomach learning about the intricacies of the art, tools and ingredients for baking.

Now, baking seems pretty straightforward, right? The standard recipes all call for flour sugar, eggs, vanilla and baking soda or powder, with dashes of additional accoutrement peppered in to define the flavor of the dessert at hand. Sounds like it should be pretty simple, but not so fast!

It is quite extraordinary, when you really break it down. Every time I peruse my cookbooks in search of my next project, almost every recipe calls for that same roster of ingredients. It reminds me of music in that sense. There are only so many notes available in the spectrum, yet artists continually come up with new melodies and hit songs using their creativity to unlock completely new sounds and genres. Baking is like that too, only the artists make their music in the kitchen, and their hit songs equate to their recipes.

So how is it, when the ingredients are consistently so similar, that bakers are able to conjure up such different textures and flavors?! I am finding, through practice, trial, and error, that so much of baking is just like any other art. It calls for sleight of hand, creative vision and willingness for experimentation to become great. 

So here is how it goes. You take your basic recipes, you learn them inside and out and you practice the techniques. You try, you fail. You try again, and you probably fail again. You do this over and over until you don’t fail anymore and you start to hit your groove. And then it finally hits you. Suddenly, it is as if you have unlocked a whole new level in the video game that you could never break past. It is when the lightbulb goes off and you start to get a knack for it.

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