I’ve had a lovely day today. I had a coffee and catch-up with my great pal Helen and a first time visit to The Matchbox Cafe in Northampton. They were slightly bemused by request for “a coffee that doesn’t taste much like coffee because I don’t really like coffee” but they aced it with a delicious not-very-coffeeish cappuccino with lots of froth and hot chocolate sprinkles. Perfect 😍
I was in town because I had been invited in to BBC Radio Northampton for a chat with Daisy-Belle about the bakery and how and when I started the business. The station is really good at championing local businesses, charities and community groups and we are really very fortunate to have this support.
For those of you who don’t know, my business started out as a side hussle in 2013, eventually becoming a full time home-based baking business to keep up with demand. I rapidly outgrew the space I had at home and so the search for commercial premises began. I took the keys to my first commercial premises in 2019 and spent three happy years in Wellingborough before relocating the business to my new home of happiness at Elkington Lodge in Welford in early 2022.
As autumn 2023 approaches, I am now heading towards my ten year anniversary of the business. And as Daisy-Belle pointed out, that is quite the achievement for a small business, particulary with what the last few years has thrown at us. So if you will allow me a moment of indulgence…yay, go me 🙃
Anyhoo, where was I? Ah yes…
While we were chatting, Daisy-Belle asked me if I had a top baking tip to share. Indeed I did. Well actually, I have hundreds. But we only had a few minutes. And I didn’t want her listeners reaching for the off switch 🤣
So I went for one that I think is absolutely ciritical to successful baking and to giving you the confidence and self-belief that you can bake. And bake well. And that tip is this:
Always follow the recipe. To the letter.
I say this because I don’t want you to fail at baking…Because I don’t want you to waste the time and money you have invested in baking for it to then not work out…And because, if I can, I want to save you the frustration and disappointment of a failed bake.
A well written, researched and rigorously tested recipe will not let you down, provided you follow the ingredients and method exactly as instructed.
Each ingredient and its corresponding weight will have been selected precisely for the role it plays in producing a mighty fine end product.
Brown sugar in a recipe, for example, will have been chosen for its depth of flavour, higher moisture content and the colour it adds to a bake. Subbing it for caster sugar may not result in a total baking failure, but it won’t look and taste the way it was intended.
So if your recipe calls for brown sugar and you only have caster sugar, pop to the shops to stock up on brown sugar before you start baking. Or save that recipe for another day and find something to bake that uses caster sugar.
THE BAKER INSIDE YOU
I hear so many times people saying that they can’t bake. Particularly gluten-free. And while I’m not disputing any experiences of baking failure, I genuinely believe that it’s not that people can’t bake but more that they’re either using the wrong ingredients, the wrong methods (or both) or are being hampered by a lack of confidence / abundance of self-doubt.
Baking is a science. And that scares the b’jaysus out of a lot of people and they just don’t bake because they think it’s too complicated or that they’re not scientifically-minded enough. I know, I was one of these people.
But now I am a self-confessed baking science geek. And I love it!
But don’t panic. I’m not saying that to bake yourself happy at home you have to be at the same level of geekery as me. You don’t. But having some understanding of the basic science behind the ingredients, methods, bake times and so on of your favourite bakes will make you an altogether better baker. And, importantly, will equip you with the knowledge to spot a duff recipe online (there are a lot of them!) and channel your efforts into a recipe that really works.
If you don’t have the time or enthusiasm for a bit of baking science, then this still doesn’t mean you can’t bake successfully. You absolutely can. As long as you follow a few simple steps…
PREP LIKE A BOSS: BAKE LIKE A PRO!
I’ve put together this simple six-step process to help you be the best baker you can be, even if you’re not interested in learning the whys and what-fors of baking science.
Choose a recipe from a trusted source, follow it to the letter and apply this approach every time you bake 👇
HOW TO PREP LIKE A BOSS: BAKE LIKE A PRO
Take the time to read the recipe all the way through and make sure it makes sense to you. If it doesn’t, consider using a different recipe (unless you can contact the author to ask questions).
Read the recipe through again to ensure you didn’t miss anything the first time round (easily done, particularly if, like me, you have a wandering mind!)
Gather together all the ingredients and equipment you will need to bake the recipe (the fancy name for this is mis en place).
Take a moment to check you have everything required and the time needed to bake the recipe. If in doubt, don’t!
With your preparation done, and satisfied that you have everything you need to get baking, have one last read-through of the recipe from start to finish.
You are now fully prepped and ready to bake like a pro! Go Bake Yourself Happy at Home 🙂
I hope this helps you and will encourage you to bake if you have been hesitant to give it a go. But you know where I am if you have any questions 💕