, , , ,

I’m not generally much of a baker. I’m a cook. Bakers like the precision of when to add a certain ingredient and how long to stir it. They are focused. They are scientists. Cooks often tend to be more impulsive, more free sprited about what goes into a dish when. Not that both aren’t creative. They are. But a cook makes me think of an artist splashing paint onto a canvas, watching the colors blend and take shape as a work of art. Bakers are like draftsmen, creating a beautiful work from carefully orchestrated lines, shadings and delicate etchings. But occasionally something sparks my interest in finely crafted baked goods and I want to dedicate my weekend to mastering the dough.

Often though, I know little about the food science behind baking. For instance, did you know that “For clean edges on cookies and for even baking, doughs and batters should stay cold — place them in the freezer when the mixing bowl seems to be warming up. And just before baking, cookies should be very well chilled, or even frozen hard.” or that creaming the butter is not just softening it but also beating in air bubbles that will help your dough to remain light and fluffy? Sugar adds to the air bubbles and baking soda and baking powder will help but they can’t make the bubbles bigger if they aren’t there. How did I learn all this about baking? The NY Times article about butter.

Apparently this stuff is IMPORTANT. I knew butter was better than margarine, and although I try to limit it in my cooking I would never give it up altogether in favor of margarine. Um, hello vegetable oil. Not on my English Muffin. And yes, I can believe it’s not butter. If loving butter is wrong I don’t want to be right. I’ll stick with all of those European elitists who, somehow seem to eat butter and not die of heart attacks. Moderation, perhaps? Now that’s a butter philosophy I can live with.