Baking - Breads, Ingredient Insights

Confessions of an Imprecise Baker

I’m sure many of you have heard that with cooking you can add ingredients willy nilly to a recipe and change it as much as you want and it will still come out fabulous, but with baking you need to be very precise. Each ingredient must be carefully measured to the exact amount, preferably weighed because that is even more precise. I understand the importance of precision in baking. There is a chemical reaction that happens, and if certain ingredients are out of proportion that can affect the final product. But I have to confess, the other day I wanted muffins, and I wanted them fast. I didn’t want to get my scale out, I didn’t want to sift the flour, and I didn’t want to mash up exactly half a cup of banana. Let’s face it, at home, baking for ourselves, who can be bothered with precision all the time?

So I took a basic muffin recipe, and I added one and a half mashed bananas; I added some vanilla straight from the bottle; it called for two eggs, but all I had left was two eggs and I wanted to cook a yolk for my daughter’s dinner, so I added one whole egg plus one egg white; I added the rest of a bag of chocolate chips, however many that was; I thought it might be fun to add some peanut butter, so I took out a knife, scooped some out of the jar and added it to the mix; it called for milk, so I added that plus some yogurt.

And do you know what happened? One, the world did not end; and two, I ended up with some super tasty and moist muffins. Now, keep in mind that the base of the recipe stayed the same. If you’re going to play around with a baking recipe, I suggest not changing the really important stuff too much, like the leavening agents (baking soda/baking powder) and amount of flour. But for the superfluous ingredients, go ahead and be a cook rather than a baker every now and then. Depending on what you do, it may be a flop, or you could end up with something more delicious than you anticipated. There’s only one way to find out which way it will go. And if you’re like me, odds are you’ve got someone in the house who will eat it no matter how it turns out, so what have you got to lose!

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