On Baking

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Sure, I have to love it to do it everyday right? I learned the basics of cooking at a very young age from my grandmother. I used to spend as much time as I could with her, taking in every step to each and every dish. Recipes were something that were never shared on an index card or compiled in a family tome of favorites. She never measured, but her directions consisted of naked-eye estimates and using the palm of her hand as a measuring cup. This is how was passed on: through routine and her apt direction.

We did not do much baking, because most of the day was spent rolling grape leaves or breaking vermicelli–making sure each segment was broken off at the thumb’s knuckle–for the rice pilaf dishes. When we did bake, it was Syrian bread. There is something so wonderful, so tactile about producing the dough and shaping each loaf into balls. We proofed each loaf as traditional as possible, on the floured kitchen table with white towels draped all over. Hours would pass and we’d watch the dough balls plump up under the warmth. That yeasty smell as each flat, round loaf would emit from the oven was to die for. It was something I fell in love with. Sometimes, we’d break out a Betty Crocker chocolate fudge cake mix and make a square cake, just because. The science of eggs, flour, sugar and baking powder and fats when combined with heat created the most glorious things. I was hooked.

Through my cooking experience, explorations into other cuisines and travels, I learned more about flavors that can go beyond the vanilla and chocolate. Whenever I visit a different locale, I search for Italian and French bakeries. I pore over books from famed bakeries and pastry chefs to refine technique.

I started with cupcakes as the trend was in a nationwide frenzy. Cake batter is an easy medium to add different flavor variables, as is the frosting. Experimentation usually yields amazing results.

🙂

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