Baking is a delicate art. I always knew everything had to be measured with precision and that steps had to be followed closely. But it didn't completely 100 percent occur to me that even the temperature of the butter can impact how a future baked good will turn out until I read this post in the New York Times about a lesson from baking legend Dorie Greenspan.
I can't even tell you how many times I've read "room temperature butter" in a recipe and thought, "Oh, it'll be fine," right after I've taken my butter out of the refrigerator (or I've thrown it into the microwave and obliterated it). This may also explain why I have so many so-called "baking disasters." In other words, something inevitably goes wrong while I bake and I often end up with funny-looking baked goods. I even had a friend who said once that he hears the Benny Hill theme song in the background whenever he pictured me baking. (Although, in my defense, people usually eat whatever I make ...)
What's more, per Ms. Greenspan, I come to learn that the size of the pan matters. And, I mean, anecdotally at least, it's easy to see that if you tried to make cheesecake in a bread pan, you'd end up with a weird cheesecake. But is the same true of other pans, too? Sheesh. What about more subtle substitutions? After all, cake mix can be turned into rectangular cakes, round cakes or cupcakes, can't it? And while I appreciate Ms. Greenspan's dictum, "Baking is not soup!" I would also be tempted to make this Blueberry Crumb Cake in, say, a nine-inch square pan to prove maybe there *is* a little wiggle room in baking. (Although perhaps I'd fall flat on my face and Ms. Greenspan would then lord over me saying, "I told you so!")
What about you? Are you careful with ingredients and pans when you bake? Or do you not really worry about it?
Image via suavehouse113/Flickr