taste as I go

 I love putting stuff together or breaking things up to see how it works and then making something new or a new use out of it.  I do the same with food and recipes.  My basic food group is made up of pasta, (any kind) meat and sauce, side dish, and chocolate!  I love guessing what's in the dish served me and then resolve to replicate the taste at home someday.  I get to experiment - adding a spice or salt here, some sugar or a potato to correct saltiness, water to thin or starch to thicken - all within the cooking time with the smells and the constant tasting helping me improve, improvise till I get it right.

Baking, then, is way too much trouble.  You can't open the oven door and poke as much as your insecurity and impatience compels you to. The measuring and weighing and converting measurements is a tedious task, particularly since I don't have thermometers (oven or candy),  weighing scale,  timer and all other gadgets that make baking as exact a science as its supposed to be. Also, I am appalingly no good at Math! I'd like to think I am more of a creative type and formulas and numbers aren't all that sexy to me - I need to visualize the whole and not just sum it all up.

So why did I take up baking? Because I love collecting cookie jars and hate to see them go empty.  We are all sweet toothed and a pack of cookies isn't enough for seven! Since the home oven I use isn't in tip top shape, I figured winging it and blind baking would do.  I just make sure I use test recipes that doesn't call for a ton of ingredients (expensive) or ones I am familiar with or can imagine how it would taste singly or as a whole.   I also make sure to scour the net for pictures of what every stage and end product is supposed to look like and read up on lots of real feedback, tips and tricks.  And as I am not formulaic much, I tend to adjust everything to taste, by mouth feel and 'instinct'.  I make deductions as I go. More often than not, it works ; ).  As my twin nephews would say, my botched up bakes is yummy! They don't mind eating blobs as long as its delish anyways! Pretty soon though , I get to study what I did wrong or right, do my plus and minuses and voila - it comes out near perfect on the next try!

Here's an example: a fudgey cookie recipe from Joy of Baking. I cut back on ingredients, had to add more flour and adjust baking time twice.  The first batch was gooey and spread into a thin sheet when baking.  The second, improved recipe still spread out but "gelled" a bit more.  The third was way better and I cut it into squares because it still won't hold.  What the heck I let it be and it was gooey good in the middle and crispy chewy on top!  I am definitely going to make the same mistakes again!


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