I have established in previous articles that I am not a cook. I can feed myself and my family, but I have no real skill, and I certainly do not have the artistry required to really make that jump from being able to make meals and being able to cook. However, I do have one claim to fame among my friends and family: I love to bake. What I don’t understand is why this is considered a talent. Baking is something that anyone can do and do well. Here are a few of the reasons that you should give it a try.
1) It just plain tastes better!
This is the most important reason why everyone should be baking from scratch. I have absolutely nothing against convenience and/or pre-packaged foods. However, the bottom line is that some things just cannot be mass produced at the same quality that you can make in your home. (The one exception to this rule as pertains to cookies is the Oreo. I have no idea what they do to make that cream filling, but the Double Stuf Oreo is about as close to perfection as you can get in a cookie from a store in my opinion. I have tried to duplicate the sandwich cookie experience at home and it is just not the same.) This can be excused if it is very difficult or time consuming to make the same product, but baking is NOT difficult. You will never find a chocolate chip cookie or a basic brownie at the store that tastes as good as what you can make in your very own kitchen and most of these things can be made in 30 minutes or less.
2) It is easy!
Cooking well requires a true understanding of your ingredients and how they work together. The best cooks do not follow recipes, but just mix ingredients and come up with something wonderful. This is not the case with baking. It is all about following directions with precision. You do not need to know how to use complicated kitchen gadgets and appliances. If you have a set of measuring cups and spoons and an oven, then you can make great baked goods! The most important thing to remember is to follow directions as closely as possible. If it says to mix the eggs and sugar first and then add the flour, then do it. Improvising is great when you are making chicken, but it can make lumpy brownies.
3) It is cheap!
We are a single income family and we watch our grocery spending carefully. Buying cookies and cakes from the store can get expensive quickly and although we love to get desserts at restaurants, eating out is not in our budget very often. However, having homemade cakes and cookies around the house makes it seem less like we are doing without. Who can feel like they are missing out when they have apple crisp or a chocolate fudge cake for dessert? We consider chocolate chips and cocoa and vanilla staples and although they are inexpensive, if you put them together with the flour, sugar and eggs that most people have in their house already you are well on your way to making most basic recipes.
4) It is healthier!
Okay, I know what you are thinking…cookies and cakes are not healthy. I am not going to dispute that. However, if you are making them from scratch you know exactly what is going inside your snacks and there are no preservatives necessary. I like to have my food contain as many ingredients that I can pronounce as possible. There are also plenty of great tasting recipes that use other ingredients in place of sugar to help make the snacks even more friendly to those of us watching calories. Applesauce is a great substitute that adds a wonderful sweetness without making too much of a difference in taste. Adding pumpkin is a great way to make a really moist pumpking cake or muffin and also add a nice flavor.
5) Your friends will love you!
Baked goods are a great gifts to bring as hostess at parties or even to use as birthday or holiday gifts. People really appreciate your spending the time to make them something and who doesn’t love a great sweet treat?! We only have 3 people in our family and my 1 year old daughter doesn’t eat very much at a time. Therefore, we usually do not need the full amount of cookies or brownies that a recipe will make. Sometimes we simply cut the recipe down to size (basic math…again something anyone can do!) but often I will make the full amount and then split the results between friends and co-workers. It is great to see the look on a friend’s face when you drop by with a plate of baked goods. It can really brighten up someone’s day and that is a great feeling.
I really hope that you will be inspired to give baking a try. Just start small with a pan of chocolate brownies or some chocolate chip cookies and soon you will be making glazed bundt cakes and homemade tiramisu! They have thousands of recipes and you can search for recipes involving whatever ingredients you have on hand and also narrow your search to your level of experience with baking. They have many recipes that can be completed in under 30 minutes. That’s less time than it can take to make a late night snack run to your 24 hour grocery store. Happy baking everyone!
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