Maybe if this off-topic Q&A goes well, we can do others in the future.
What is your favorite thing to bake?
Lots of different things, for different reasons. I love super fancy complicated things because they’re so pretty and impressive, but also, nothing beats the simplicity of a good chocolate chip cookie. Cream puffs are one of my favorite things to make to take to a fancy do, because people think they’re impressive, but they’re really easy to make.
This is brilliant.
So many questions. How to choose?
We follow the recipe & instructions precisely, but we can’t get the bread to rise very well. I mean, maybe four inches or so. It never looks like store-bought. Any tips?
If you’re sure the yeast is fresh and you’re following the instructions, the fail could be in technique, equipment, or recipe. Easiest thing first, are you doing the same recipe each time? Paste or link it here.
Temperature for proofing is a common failure point. But you’re the baker, I’m just a cook that bakes 😛
Maybe. Though I’d be more likely to suspect underproofing as a function of time.
Fondant – blessing or curse?
Assuming you mean rolled fondant to cover fancy cakes. Blessing! No, it’s not the best tasting stuff. It’s not terrible, some people like it, some not. But the flavor is not the point, because you always put regular icing underneath it, and just peel it off if you don’t like it.
The point of fondant is that it makes a nice smooth surface for decorating. It is sturdy and can be touched without a giant smear, unlike if you put your thumb into smooth buttercream. And it keeps cakes fresh because it seals in moisture, and if you’re making super fancy cake, you’re making it ahead of time.
What’s your favorite bread?
French! Crusty outside, soft, chewy inside. The plainest of breads. White flour, water, yeast salt. It’s perfection.
What do you find more fun to make/decorate: cupcakes or theme cakes?
Full size fancy cakes are fancier, and prettier, and generally tastier, cuz of layers. But they are also super stressful to make, because if you’re making someone’s wedding cake, the pressure is ON. If you drop one cupcake, it doesn’t matter. And you can taste it ahead of time. Also easier to serve. So they both have their advantages.
So, I’m sure you’ve had to deal with people who keep angling for the “friends and family” discount. Have you ever had someone just not accept “no”?
Nah. I don’t do much freelance work, and when I do, my friends know what my time is worth. On the rare occasion I do something fancy, like a wedding cake, I charge a LOT. Not way out of line with industry standard, but definitely top dollar. Because I have to do it in my time off, in a kitchen not equipped for efficiency. I’m a busy person. My time off is precious. If I’m going to bake in it, it’d better be worth my while.
I want to make sourdough bread, but I want to make my own starter. I could buy some, but i like the ability to make what i need on my own and not count on a store having it on hand when i might run out. Would you please share your recipe with your studio audience? (Camera 2 lights up) 🙂 😀
I don’t make sourdough at home, but when I do make bread, I like to make a different kind of preferment. I make poolish! Equal parts flour and water by weight (8oz each for a good size loaf or batch of rolls) and half the yeast (instant) mixed thoroughly, covered and left in a warm place overnight. Next day, add the rest of the recipe, proceed as usual.
When we made starter in bread class, we made a french kind called levain. We soaked raisins in water, then drained and mixed with flour, then slowly fed it water and flour over time until it was starter. It took about a week, and then we made bread with it. It was good. It’s a kind of sourdough, with good complex flavors, but not as sharp as what we would normally call sourdough.
You can find all kinds of recipes for growing a starter, and most of them should be fine. Foodwishes.com has one that looks pretty good. The thing to remember is, it takes almost a week to grow a starter until you can use it. It must be nurtured. Then it becomes a pet that you must feed every few days, or it will die. And your little bread monster WILL grow big enough to take over your house if you don’t use it. So if you want to maintain a starter in the fridge, plan on baking pretty frequently, or throwing away a bunch of dough goo every few days. Or give it away to your friends!
The yeast in sourdough is the same little critter that is in the packet, but instead of being manufactured, it’s wild! Spores floating about in the air find a home in the starter and make little yeast families.
Wild yeasts vary by region. The world famous San Fransisco sourdough is over 150 years old! The main starter is kept in a vault. But if you took a piece of that starter and brought it to Michigan, within 30 days, you’ll have Michigan sourdough!
Sourdough is called a “natural starter” because it gets its yeast from the wild instead of the packet. Natural starters made the first leavened breads back in ancient Egypt, where beer brewing and the river meant there were plenty of yeast spores in the air. Flatbreads were originally thought to have come from about 10k years ago, in Sumeria, when humans started growing cereal grains agriculturally. BUT recently (like a few weeks ago) remains of flatbreads were found in Jordan that are FOUR THOUSAND YEARS OLDER! Wow!
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