Saturday, March 15, 2008

can we talk?

A few little birds have mentioned that I am coming across as a little hard on myself in terms of how I review my baking succcesses/failures. Hmm. I'll admit I have very high expectations of myself. I also have high standards regarding baked goods. That is not to say that these expectations or standards extend to others. I am generally excited about any and all baking adventures, regardless of the baker's skill or experience level, and I have just as much of a taste for any old chocolate chip cookie recipe as I do for Jewish bakery cookies, Oreos, or fine pastries.

As I read more and more food/baking blogs, I am often surprised by how mediocre I find some of the recipes I try, though I do try to ascertain the competence of the baker before selecting a recipe by gleaning information from his/her site: the source of the recipe, level of difficulty, the baker's modifications, descriptions of the baking process or results, and presentation. I am often totally wowed by people's creativity, craftiness, or decorating skill.

Back to me (because isn't that why this self-indulgent space exists?). So far in this blog, I have tried a lot of recipes I haven't made before. That means going into it, I don't have a good sense of whether the recipes themselves are good or bad, nor whether I will successfully execute them. In several cases, my expectations have not been met because the recipe was underwhelming (e.g., sugar cookies). In other cases, whether or not the result was edible, it has not looked or tasted like I thought it would (e.g., the underwhelming chocolate coating of the truffles). So the question is whether a particular recipe merits being tried again or I should just move on and try something else.

I'm sorry if I've given anyone (Denise) heartburn by throwing baked goods out. I promise that only happens on rare occasion when the cookie or bar is just inedible. I mean, the people in my office will eat just about anything, so I will usually bring stuff to work (though whether or not I'll cop to it or leave it anonymously in the kitchen depends on my ego that week).

Honestly, I know I bake well - particularly when it comes to old standby recipes (my go-to chocolate chip cookies) or those I've practiced infinitely (Leah's wedding cake). I feel like it's appropriate to be critical of my efforts. Though I really don't plan to one day open a bakery, I do talk about it all the time with two friends from work (who are fed up with work and therefore susceptible to escapist fantasies). So maybe I'm judging everything by that standard: would I sell this in my fictitious bakery?

So although I'm going to continue to feature new - and therefore unproven and potentially disastrous - recipes on this site, I will try to be a little more easygoing with my critique. In light of that, I am introducing a new rating system. (I actually used it a few posts ago, but now there are ***icons*** - whoohoo!)

Presenting: thumbs up, thumbs neutral, and thumbs down!

Look for ratings soon, and let me know what you think.

I'm also posting a few pictures of past successes, just so you know I am quite often very happy with my work!

Bug Bug's 2nd bday
Bug's 3rd bday
Boy-0's 1st bday (cake for him) (forgive the dreadful chocolate photoshop editing of his name)

Boy-o's 1st bday (cake for the rest of us) (forgive the equally dreadful vanilla name erasing)

Leah and Juston's wedding


Suzanne said...

First and foremost, I am so impressed with all of the baking you are doing. Whether the final product is beautiful (like Leah and Juston's wedding cake) or inedible (like the baked goods Denise is flipping about), it doesn't matter. You are doing something that you love! And you are continuing that lifelong process of learning that so often falls by the wayside as we get sidetracked by our daily lives.

Second, if your baking is just for fun, that's great. But if you ultimately want to open up a bakery, then do it! You are smart and intelligent, and would absolutely be able to make a successful go of it. In fact, let me know and I'd be happy to open up a NJ outlet for you...

jami said...

Thanks for the vote of support! I'll let Anna and Terri know we should start collecting recipes.


Anonymous said...

The erased names are killing me! hahaha