I am a terrible baker. This fact about my lack of skills in the oven is well-known among my friends and family, and especially my husband. I have always been a terrible baker. I can cook just about anything you’d like and it usually tastes pretty damn good. But there is something about the process of baking that my brain/body cannot figure out. I am often teased about this problem I have, because I have been known to screw up even the easiest of recipes. I have ruined muffins and cupcakes, pies and tarts, casseroles and meat dishes, and just about anything else you can imagine.
I have tried to come up with a reason for why I don’t get along with ovens or the dishes that go in them, and I think I’ve figured it out. I don’t like measurements, and I’m not a perfectionist. When I cook, I can throw whatever I want in the pan and I usually know how it will turn out. In baking there is no compromise, no alterations, no straying from the rules. I don’t do well with rules– I have been known to substitute the baking soda with baking powder (which I’ve learned is a horrible idea), and white sugar with brown sugar (also a bad idea) and the results end up nothing like they are supposed to. In cooking there is room for error. In baking, you must be precise.
I once ruined my sister-in-laws birthday cupcakes because I forgot to put boiling water in the cupcake batter before scooping it into the tins. How could a little hot water ruin cupcakes you ask? Well they sunk down to the bottom of the tins and came out mushy and wilted looking. To my defense she knew my baking handicap and I even gave her another warning, but she insisted I was capable of making them anyway. Boy did I prove her wrong. Last year I was put in charge of bringing the lemon bars to work for a co-worker’s birthday and they turned out awful. Lemon bars from scratch would be understandably difficult, of course. But these were from a box. And somehow, I ruined them. They were overly sticky, parts were burned, parts were undercooked. How? I have no idea. I have a perfectly good, very new, oven and cannot place any of the blame on it. Like I said, I can’t bake.
Every once in a while I decide I’m going to “give it another try” and I usually fail. But once in a very rare blue moon, something I bake turns out alright. Last year I made zucchini bread, and under the help and supervision of my husband, it turned out pretty damn good. This was a once in a life-time type of accomplishment. Probably to never happen ever again for the rest of my life.
I have on occasion baked desserts that turn out okay, not good, but okay and that happened for me last night, and I consider it a triumph. I made a recipe (without really following a recipe because if you remember from earlier, I don’t do that very well) and it turned out okay. A coworker told me how to make a peach galette, so I gave it a try. Now, I need to be forthcoming about the fact that I did not make the pie crust from scratch. That is not in my nature and would have turned out horribly, so I picked one up from the refrigerated section of my local grocery store. The reason I say this was only “okay” is because it wasn’t sweet enough for my taste. Maybe with a little ice cream it would have been better, but if you aren’t using ice cream, I suggest adding a little more brown sugar to the peaches AND brushing the crust with a little water and white sugar.
Here is the recipe I (sort of) followed for a Peach Galette:
What you’ll need:
– 3 peaches, seeded and sliced
– 1 tablespoon brown sugar (I’d use 2 next time)
– 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1 tablespoon white sugar
– 1 refrigerated pie crust (I used Pillsbury although it wasn’t very sweet)
And that’s it! Sounds easy right?
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Seed and slice your peaches, then mix in a bowl with brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll out pie dough on parchment paper on a cookie sheet or pizza tone and pour peaches into a circle in the middle leaving space around the edges. Slowly fold up the edges leaving the center peaches a little uncovered. Make sure not to poke holes and make any tears so you don’t have a huge mess in the oven.
Bake for 25 minutes or until center is bubbly.
Let cool a little while before slicing. If I can do it, you can do it. Trust me. If anyone has any tips for how to make me a better baker, I’m all ears! Comments are welcome :)