29 Mar 2012

The life of a baking novice is made of great joys...and massive disasters

Since I've started baking, I've discovered and been following some great foody and baking blogs. Beautiful, well written, featuring lovely recipes and most of all packed with amazing photos of perfect cakes, each one more beautiful than the previous one.
I had all the reasons to be full of hope. I can cook, even quite well...so baking could not be that difficult.
Coming from the land of Tarte fine aux pommes, Eclair au Chocolat and Opera, having croissant butter running through my veins, I surely had to be gifted for baking in some way. I would nail the whole project in few months....easy.
It was not long before I discovered how wrong I was, little pretentious Frenchie that I was (I wonder where this reputation of ours comes from though? ;-))
Firstly, baking is about precision and discipline, which I seriously lacked. I was putting a bit of this, a pinch of that, oh and why not some more of this. This, mon ami, cannot be when you bake (unless you really are a bad ass and can create your own recipes, which I still can't). Whatever the recipe says; you don't question it, you do it, in the right order and with the exact quantities.
Secondly, even if you do everything as stated, chances are that as a beginner you'll end up with a disaster rather than the nice looking cake you see on the recipe picture. It will also probably be too dry, or too dense, or something worse.
These wonderful blogs are not entirely truthful. They only show the successes ; the cakes you are so proud of you would dream of The Queen popping around for tea just because she happened to be in the neighbourhood. 
Where are the pictures of the burnt pavlovas? The double headed muffins? The spread out cookies? And the macarons disguised in tuiles aux amandes?
So here I am, not afraid to tell you the ugly truth : a baker's life is sometimes made of well risen victoria sponge ; voluptuous salted caramel sauce, fluffy yet chewy and crunchy at the same time meringue...and of horrible disasters.
Once you got your head around the fact that the real achievement is actually just to try and keep the successes ahead of the disasters, you can recover from everything.

Sensitive eyes to be closed now, some shocking pictures are to follow. I think this is self explanatory. I might just want to add that yes, these pictures were taken less than a month ago, yes I have been baking for 3 years, and that I have quite become not so bad at it....most of the time at least.

The one known as 
The Shrek Scary Macaron
I don't get it, the book says 
"recipes with pictures,
success guaranteed" 
For those interested in learning how to make macarons, l'Atelier des Chefs in London offers a 3 hour hands-on masterclass. I took it and highly recommend it (even if the example above is not the best publicity!)
You can visit the website of L'Atelier des Chefs in London


  1. Florence Queen of Puddings29 March 2012 at 23:04

    How refreshing! True, all those blogs aren't telling the honest truth. What we need here is the Baking Apprentice Series. Pauline, I think you are hired! For now... Until the next session that is.

  2. Thanks Florence! I hope I make it to second season though! ;-)

  3. did they taste a terrible as they look? i can definitely put up with bad looks as long as it s happy time in my mouth

  4. Hey I know these delicious and very sweet macarons....


Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions!