Monday, 30 January 2012

The Essence of Cake - Part 2

Link to Part 1

Pound cake is not quite as light or fluffy as sponge cake - it's more dense and bready in texture, because the butter whipping method doesn't create quite as much air as the egg method. Which is why sponge cake is might lighter - eggs whip up to a much greater volume, meaning they've incorporated much more air, and so they rise more during cooking. Neither one cake is better than the other. The best one depends on the situation or occasion, your personal tastes, and a whole load of other factors. Of course I recommend you make them both at once in order to compare!

The Essence of Cake - Part 1


I have an odd relationship with cake. That is to say, my feelings towards it have been rather changeable over my lifetime. I expect as a child, I always assumed it was an easy thing to make - the first thing you make, almost equivalent to a batch of biscuits in terms of ease.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Essence of Fudge - Part 2

Link to Part 1

You might be disappointed that I'm going to tell you you need a piece of equipment which you may not already have. This is a sugar thermometer. If you search online, there is a lot of stuff about making fudge without a thermometer, judging by eye and appearance when the fudge is cooked the right amount. Feel free to do this if you wish. I have a (sometimes irritatingly) analytical mind, and so I simply couldn't cope with just 'judging' by eye. That's why I like to use a thermometer. If you're OK without, then I envy and admire you. If you're not, I bought mine for something like £6 online, it's really not a big deal.

The Essence of Fudge - Part 1

Guess what I learnt today? It's impossible to take still photos of a fluid which accurately represent how viscous it is.

Fudge was actually one of my first escapades into the 'essences' of cooking. There are so many different recipes and methods out there, I just wanted to know what made fudge fudge, as opposed to something else.

Monday, 9 January 2012

The Essence of Bread - Part 2

Link to Part 1

The trouble with ratios is that they don't explain absolutely everything. Even if you've never made bread before, you probably know that if you just bunged some flour, water and yeast together and didn't do anything else, you wouldn't end up with bread.

So I've also been looking into basic technique. The book, Ratio, gives an acceptable overview but I think even that assumed a bit of prior knowledge, and I was starting from a complete blank. I spent a while looking up simple techniques and things, and decided I had a decent enough idea to give it a try.

The Essence of Bread - Part 1

Do you know what bread is?

Think carefully, it's a difficult question.

Sunday, 8 January 2012


I started baking regularly a good few months ago. Maybe almost a year. I don't really remember how it happened, I just decided at one point that I was going to become 'a person who bakes'. So I did.

I got cookbooks and looked up recipes. I sought advice from the bakers of my family. I took possession of a shelf in the cupboard of the kitchen, reorganised all our baking ingredients and started taking responsibility for the house being stocked with flour and sugar.


I like cooking, and maths.

Wait, come back! Give me a chance.

It's OK if you don't like maths. Lots of people don't, it doesn't mean you have to hate me. And I promise I won't hate you either (even if I might think you're a bit strange,  but I'll never say it). It's OK if you like maths too.

It's even OK if you don't like cooking. Although I'd prefer if it was the 'I wish I was better at cooking and then I'd enjoy it more' kind of dislike, and not the 'I want to kill anyone who likes cooking' kind. But I'm not here to judge.

But I do like maths, and I do like cooking. And so I'll talk about them both a lot. Hopefully the maths will be disguised and/or interesting enough that it won't put off the people who don't like maths. I promise it will (almost) always be relevant to the actual cooking topic in some way or other.

Here's a close up of my oven.