As I bake more often, I’m realizing that the process of baking makes me incredibly nervous, where cooking relaxes me, excites me. Baking excites me too, or rather the idea of it, but I find I second guess myself a lot when I’m in the actual process of baking. For one, is my butter too soft? Does it matter? Is it even better when its melted over just soft? Then, am I adding too much flour? Are the rest of the ratios correct? I know it’s what the recipe says, I follow it to a T, but then sometimes my dough is still wet and seems like it needs more flour, and other times too crumbly and needs more liquid, and then I wonder if I just have a bad recipe, but just didn’t know any better…and then I always freak out when I place the dough on my silicone sheets. Are the balls too compact or too large (I picked up a new ice cream/cookie scoop because I’m that paranoid) and whether they will come out soft and chewy like I like them…and so on, and so on. I know, I’m overthinking this.
I have coworkers who love to bake and say it’s the easiest thing in the world, preferring baking over cooking even. Nope, baking makes me so nervous, but that’s because it’s a science, not an art, though I think others would disagree with me on that. I don’t know, everything is just so exact and doing one step out of order or not having enough of something could be the difference between deliciousness and complete failure. I like to play with amounts and flavors, rather than having to be so specific, and I think that’s where I seize up when I start to bake. Sure, I can change up the flavors, but I’m just not as savvy as some of my fellow baking buddies who are smart enough to know that adding more vanilla means something has to change with the recipe so that it all still comes together. [Again, am I just overthinking this?] I know I need to relax, keep baking, and if I do a little research on cookie science, then I’ll learn more about cookies and what makes them…well…cookies! Though, after a week of reading recipe after recipe after recipe, I am starting to notice a pattern…and I spent a good hour reading Food Lab’s Cookie Science article, which was incredibly illuminating (read here).
And lets be honest. The only way I’m truly going to get better at making cookies is by making cookies. SO, I thought, WHAT THE HECK! Let’s do a two-fer! If I’m going to sift through recipes, I might as well try them, see what happens, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll find the recipes that really are “The Best” for me (and my friends & family of course, because I can’t be eating all these cookies by myself, which brings me to draw your attention to the ugly paper plate underneath my finished cookies that I used at work because I forgot to photograph at home, but none of my coworkers seemed to mind much).
This batch, an Averie Cooks recipe (recipe link below) I had tried before, came out okay, but not like it had the last time I made it about a year ago, and I don’t think I did anything differently! See? THIS is what I’m talking about, why I get nervous when I bake! Maybe I was just more aware since I’m not just baking to feed others, I’m baking to photograph and write about my experience with cooking and so am hyper aware of everything I’m doing. [If you’d like to help me come to my senses, now would be a good time.] I did notice that the flour seemed really high (2 cups in addition to a packet of vanilla pudding) and came out a little crumbly, but the dough was still workable and came out chewy and rich, definitely how I like my cookies! So in the end, I totally over thought the whole process, but I think it could have done with perhaps 1/2 a cup less flour, and maybe 1/4 cup less white sugar because other folks found the richness to be a little cloying. Things to consider, but it’s back to the grind for me, and tomorrow I’ll be prepping/chilling the cookie recipe my mom made when we were in Hong Kong, and I’ll actually have a story to tell! Keep an eye out for Part 2 soon!
Hopelessly Lost in Flour, Cooking Maggie
The Best Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies from Averie Cooks