Weeknotes 32 - The one about baking
- I have a huge crush on Claire Saffitz. It’s fun watching her taste something and describe how the texture and flavour work together. When recreating a Twix she tasted the biscuit, the chocolate and the caramel separately, before deciding that none of them were particularly interesting on their own. That 1) blew my mind and 2) made me realise that there is something interesting about thinking about each component of a dish separately. Sometimes I do that instinctively, but maybe I could get even better results if I could think about food critically and understand why some things work well together.
- That line of thinking primed me for Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat which I have just started reading. I have enough skill and intuition to use certain types of recipes as an inspiration rather than instruction. Articulating and generalising the rules behind the intuition should open up more avenues of experimentation. That’s my hope for reading the book.
- Watching all the cake baking inspired me to try making something I’ve never made before: a frosted, layered cake. What could be more pleasant than making vegan cream cheese cake frosting in thirty degree heat with only a hand whisk to hand, as it were? My first batch split after adding vanilla extract. I ran to the shops and bought enough ingredients for another batch. It split. Was there too much water in the vegan margarine and cream cheese to emulsify properly? The third attempt was a straightforward (fake) buttercream (I had no more vegan cream cheese). It… split. Was it the heat? Was is the hand whisk? I went to the shops again, bought more ingredients and an electric whisk. I experimented some more. I started the final batch slowly, whisking just the margarine, slowly adding cream cheese. Perfect consistency, good taste, looking promising! I gingerly added the sugar bit by bit, and suddenly… the whole thing became liquid. A day in the kitchen and I am nowhere closer to understanding the rules of frosting.
- Frosting failures aside, it would be cool to go on Bake-off to bake vegan stuff in every challenge (maybe apart from the technical). Once you understand how to replace eggs the resulting bakes are no less indulgent, light, soft and spongy. I would love to see them judged on a par with non-vegan bakes, because why not?