On more than one occasion I have admitted my obsession with baking shows. The intensity of each challenge couples with the creative juices of each baker to leave me in the frame of mind to rise to any occasion. Also, I’m sure I could have done the pizza themed cupcake better than that guy… Anyway, I sit back and enjoy the chaos of baking and cooking shows as often as I can get away with it.
Throughout whichever show I may be enthralled with is this little nagging at the back of my mind; a little voice trying desperately to bring forward a concern. Poor little guy seems destined to being drowned out by the bigger voice saying “Did you see what he did? Of course I did but I don't believe it!”
It was not until I watched the recent season of Great American Baker that the tiny voice got to shine through: “Recipes! These guys are using recipes!” Holy sh..! That’s right: I have never seen a recipe used in any other baking show. Great American Baker shows the bakers using their own recipes as well as being given a mystery recipe from the judges. Where are the recipes in Cupcake Wars or Sweet Genius? Are these scenes lying in shreds on the editing room floor? Or do these people actually remember and/or create recipes on the fly?...
The latter question really stuck with me. It seems obvious that after so long of baking or being baking-obsessed you would understand how a recipe goes together to create the result you want. Or it could be memorized and easily edited as needed; again, based on understanding how the recipe works. Either route depends on a primary aspect: understanding how these ingredients come together in a recipe to make the cake you want.
Needless to say, this began to drive me crazy. Every cupcake recipe taunted me for my lack of knowledge during the winter holidays. Why do I want to use cake flour? What’s the big deal with cold butter? What is the difference between baking soda and baking powder? The expedition finally began on a cold, windy day when we were snowed in… and there wasn't even enough sugar in the house to tame the bite from my coffee.
I started with a list of all the high points that are common across recipes and that I wanted to research. Here is my original list: sugar, flour, baking soda vs baking powder, butter vs oil, eggs. Along the way, my research spurned more quandaries: oven temperature, cornstarch, cream of tartar, fondant vs gumpaste, types of buttercream, chocolate vs cocoa. Wow! Now that was a list!
To stay organized and not lose my new found resources in the see of browser bookmarks, I decided to create a board on my Pinterest account. The original idea was if I'm wondering, so is someone else. Solid concept, that one.
While pinning is a great way to share, I did not feel like this was enough of a contribution. The thought occurred what if I AM the only one wanting to know why wheat flour cannot be directly substituted into a recipe. There was sudden panic as I worried for my fellow baking-obsessed. I needed a way to motivate them to care; it needed to be simple, effective and, above all, eye-catching.
Thankfully, I am also a digital artist! Photoshop to the rescue and an infographic is born. Unfortunately, not everything of interest made it to the infographic. There’s only so much room on one of those layouts...
I strongly recommend checking out my pin on the different types of buttercream and which is best to used when and where. I was amazed at how many of the more popular buttercreams are not really good for use under fondant because they are too soft. I did love finding out a second tip to keep a standard buttercream from being too sweet: citrus counteracts sweet so use a little lemon or lime juice. A tip I had known for a long time and use regularly is to add actual cream to your buttercream to achieve a really smooth, melt in your mouth result. If you are interested, be sure to check out my go to buttercream recipe.
For more amazing information, check out my Baking 101 board on Pinterest regularly. I never stop looking to learn and I worry that you may miss an important update regarding uses for cornstarch.
Oh, and be sure to check out my completed infographic, About a Cake, in full as well as download a copy.
All [creativity] is not lost...
Corissa has been an artist her entire life and attended the Art Institute for design after completing a Bachelor’s in Accounting from National American University. She validates the contradicting combination with “I love my art but I don’t have to starve for it.”
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