Great cooks know how to bake

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Great cooks know how to bake

Hi; I'm Jill Bellrose, Baking Guru here at LifeTips. I've heard lots of terrific cooks say they can't bake. They claim to lose their creative spirit when forced to use accurate measurements and distinct techniques. They point to the precision required when measuring ingredients for baked goods, or the necessity of following specific, "scientific" directions.

To which I say: nonsense!

Sure, it's true that a certain degree of exact measurement is necessary in baking, but it's easy to be an adventurous and innovative baker once you understand the interaction of the ingredients and the reasons behind particular techniques.

By the time you understand why we "cream" together fats and sugars before adding further cake or cookie ingredients; why we "temper" chocolate, "bloom" yeast, separate eggs or "cut" fats into flour for pastry, you'll be able to create your own gorgeous, delicious and original baked goods.

And, regardless of what the non-bakers say, while it is possible to be a very good cook without being a fine baker; in order to be a great cook, you'll need to learn at least the basics of baking.

Don't have a sweet tooth? I can't imagine a life without pastries, but I do know that all chefs are trained to bake—even those who have no desire to produce desserts. Beef Wellington, savory strudels and custards, fancy appetizers, breads and meat pies all require baking skills.

In the coming weeks, I'll offer up tips and recipes for fabulous pies, cakes and cookies—but I'll also share hints and recipes for onion rye bread, sesame cheese coins, potato and noodle puddings, sausage rolls and perfect frittatas. If you're not already there, in time, you'll be able to get super-creative, switching out ingredients to suit your time, tastes and temperament.

About me: I've baked (and cooked main courses) in various wine country restaurants, in a huge commercial bakery, and in my own gourmet bakery. I've had additional, extensive training in cake decoration and menu writing. My sister (also a chef) and I have a cookbook in the works. Right now, I'm up to my elbows in holiday cookies!

So, please check back. If you have any questions about baking, please contact me here. If I don't have a ready answer, you can be sure I'll find it and get back to you.

Happy baking!




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