This post is the result of two recent events:
- Me watching the Great British Bake Off: Masterclass with my summer roommate
- My guy mentioning that I hadn’t “posted in a while” (who knew he actually read this?)
I never measure when I bake. This may be why my baking skills are still pretty minimal–muffins are probably the easiest thing to make with none of those jailor keychains of various-sized measuring cups and spoons. On the plus side, I don’t dirty ten dishes trying to boil water. On the flip side, not everything works out the way I originally intended (but that’s not just true of baking).
This lack of measurement infuriates some readers. I had one student find my blog and say, “Dr. [TTENG], you don’t post recipes. You post annotated grocery lists!”
To some extent this is very true. I will still argue that it’s not exactly rocket surgery figuring out how much of an ingredient needs to go into a recipe (especially when step-by-step pictures are provided).
This reminded me of a time in grad school when, hanging out in the department lounge, I overheard others talking about medical doctors vs. Ph.Ds. Which job was more difficult, which job really required the extra years of college, etc. Someone suggested that this really depends upon specialty–in both realms. Some Ph.Ds just simply take longer than others; some branches of medicine are more intense in training and daily-practice than others. Someone suggested that with the medical profession that’s probably reflected in varying costs of malpractice insurance.
So in addition to arguing about which Ph.Ds were “the worst” [obviously, our branch was amazing], they started talking about which doctors had the lowest malpractice rates–arguing that they were the least intense and the least “special” because they had the lowest probability of being sued for any real reason. Now no one was using their smart phone–that wasn’t exactly the point of the conversation. Someone suggested podiatry had to have low rates. I chimed in and said dermatology was probably down there too.
That suggestion, somehow, hit a nerve with another in the room. I’m going to guess that he had just broken up with or had just been dumped by a dermatologist [Why did I come to this conclusion? Given his suddenly vehement views, the only other possibility was that one or both of his parents were dermatologists and he had Shakespearean levels of mommy and daddy issues.]. His entire demeanor changed. He got tense, his voice became very pointed and he said,
“Dermatologists are jokes. You know how dermatologists think all day? ‘If it’s wet, dry it. If it’s dry, wet it.’ That’s literally all they do.”
Honestly, I found this comment hilarious in part because there’s probably some truth to it. But the same also can be said about baking. Once you’ve made a batter, say, one or two times you kinda know the process. If the batter’s too wet, dry it: add flour. If it’s too dry, add canola oil or cream. You always need at least one egg, and some minimal amounts of salt, baking powder and/or baking soda.
So unless you’re trying to do something drastically different (like make a molten lava muffin, or you’re adding to the batter something you’ve never baked before like gouda) it’s really not that hard. People have been baking–and baking without recipes–for centuries. Give it a try.
STRAWBERRY CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS
- Chocolate chips
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Canola oil
- 1/2 and 1/2
- Vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350*F.
- Prep your strawberries. Many used frozen berries. I used fresh. Why? See below.
- Mix in the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, vanilla extract and egg.
- Alternate a half-cup of flour, and a few ounces each of canola oil and half-and-half. Mix until it has the consistency of…well…batter.
- Right before pouring the batter into a (greased) muffin tray, fold in the chocolate chips.
- Pour batter into muffin tins and cook until done–usually around 20 minutes.