Baking 101

I really like Cookbooks. I especially like cookbooks with photos. I like cooking magazines. I like cooking magazine-ettes; ie., Kraft Foods, Raley’s Something Extra. I like magazines with recipes. I like catalogs with recipes, think Williams Sonoma. I use the internet ALL the time to look for recipes. I have barely made a dent in making recipes from all of these sources. Therefore, the last thing I really need to spend my money on is. a. cookbook. SO… I borrowed one (ahem, 6) from my local library. I don’t have the time (40+ hours a week) or the money ($18,000) to attend baking school, yet. One day I am hoping to attend the Cordon Bleu Patisserie & Baking Program. They have a baking book and I put it on hold at my library, too. If you haven’t, you should visit our local library. Do you know you can search for books and put them on-hold via the internet? However, this post is about the Baking Illustrated cookbook featured above. Sometimes I wish that I didn’t love baking so much. Why? Well, my family needs to eat healthy, nutritious meals at least 3 times a day NOT cupcakes, cookies and cream puffs. I have been cooking a lot more lately, real cooking as in whole foods, not from a c-a-n or a b-o-x. I’m happy to feed my family this better-for-them food… and in that I find satisfaction, but not FUN! (Okay, making whole wheat pancakes was kind of fun.) Anyway, since attending baking school is not practical for me at this point in time, I decided to open my own baking school right here in my own kitchen. Each month (or thereof because that’s how long my library let’s me keep library books, 2 weeks plus a renewal) I’m going to use a different cookbook and bake my way through it. I had originally planned to bake my way through just the Baking Illustrated book, but once I got to the library I was overwhelmed & giddy with excitement over the selection of baking books; not just any baking books, but big name baking books – oh, and are those big name books BIG. I couldn’t find the Baking Illustrated book at first because it was on the bottom shelf on it’s side, it didn’t fit on the shelf. I checked out 6 books because, that’s all I could carry; King Arthur Flour: Whole Grain Baking, Healthy Bread: in Five Minutes a Day; Mastering the Art and Craft:baking & pastry (The Culinary Institute of America), Baking, Salsas and Tacos…this book is tiny, and Baking Illustrated. You may have noticed that a couple books have a some-what healthy theme about them “whole-grains” and “healthy bread”. It’s my hope that I can feed my family more whole grains in our every-day food – but, to me treats are treats and I love sugar (however, I’m ok with healthier raw sugars), heavy-cream and butter. Aside from becoming a better baker, it’s also my goal to modify recipes so that they are similar, not necessarily the same, but still taste over-the-top yummy as their less healthier cousins. Look for a “whole-wheat” pancake recipe soon. I made these this weekend and they were gobbled up before I could take a photo. Typically, I don’t care much for eating pancakes, but I participated in the gobbling as well. (I think I added to my waddling, too…)

The first chapter is Quick Breads, Muffins, Biscuits, and Scones. I have yet to find a scone that is as yummy as those from Ettore’s European Bakery in Sacramento, Ca – I worked for Ettore for many years once upon a time. If you’ve read my about me, you know that he offered to train me as a pastry chef… If you are ever in the vicinity of Sacramento I highly suggest you stop by Ettore’s. It’s a once in a lifetime experience! (well, maybe not ~ because I’m sure you’ll want to go back again & again.)

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