Lifestyle

The Secrets of Baking: Sam Bakes a Cake

While in the midst of brainstorming my patisserie bake for the semi-final of bake off, I was musing over what baking means to me and the impact that it’s had on my life. It’s one of my hobbies, but more than that it’s a passion; something I enjoy doing, feel a sense of accomplishment out of and sometimes do to relax. (Although Bake Off challenges are not relaxing.) But before I do a grand ode to baking – which will come, at a later date – I thought I would have Sam weigh in with his thoughts on baking.

Take it away, Sam!
measuring
It’s testament to Amanda’s skills that I have spent the past few years under the assumption that baking is pretty easy. I am occasionally invited into the kitchen to mix something, wash up a bowl or open a particularly stubborn jar, but when I have completed my task I am always ushered out again. Then, from out of nowhere, maybe an hour or two later, another serving of deliciousness is presented.

I decided that I would bake a cake. Nothing fancy, just a tasty looking chocolate cake recipe that I found. I think I was spurred into action because I was in Amanda’s bad books for some misdemeanour or other (the state of my side of the shoe cupboard, probably – I’m always in trouble for that – yes, it must have been the shoe cupboard) and hoped that baking a lovely cake would right that wrong.

Now, I have baked before, in my youth, but never unsupervised. Setting out on a solo bake was an error initiated by arrogance. The whole thing was a disaster ending with me losing my temper and declaring that baking was a huge conspiracy against me. Surprise, surprise Amanda had to come into the kitchen and rescue the situation, tutting and wearing a smug grin as though she had predicted all along that I would mess it up.

Here’s my issue with baking recipes: they’re written in a slight code which is impossible to crack unless you’re part of the club. To be part of the club you have to bake a lot and slowly figure out what it all means. For example, in my recipe it prescribed a certain amount of water and said to add it gradually until the mixture was wet. However, nowhere did it mention that IΒ didn’t have to use all of the water. I thought that if it told me a certain amount of water, then that’s the amount I have to use. Cue watery mixture flowing out of cake pan and me kicking up a massive fuss.

It’s the code that killed me. It’s like when I made cookies and the recipe said toΒ combine the mixture by hand, so that’s what I did: used my hands. Only afterwards did Baking Queen inform me that I was meant to use a wooden spoon andΒ by hand just means don’t use a machine to mix it. If that’s what it means, then why doesn’t it clearly say that? It’s like it wants me to fail.

I don’t bake cakes any more. We have a fairly good system at our house though: I’ll split the savoury cooking and Amanda smashes the desserts and sweet treats.

Next time my shoe drawer is in a mess I’m going straight to the florist.

cake begins
Is there any culinary skill that you find truly challenging? Are there any infamous kitchen disasters in your history?

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  • This is sooo hilarious…”the code” hehehehe love it! He is very sweet for trying to right his wrongs with a cake πŸ™‚

  • Hahaha love this. Sam is not too shabby of a writer. Baker on the other hand….well we all have our skill set don’t we? x

    • Hahahaha he likes to tease that if he had a blog it would be more popular than mine…. πŸ™ x

  • Yes!!! I do not get baking at all, Fredrik does these things and I am always amazed at how he can make bread like with yeast and everything does my head in it does.
    Cooking though is great because you can do what feels right and finesse the food without any rules if you want.

    • Haha well as long as you have one person that’ll do they baking that’s all you really need, right? (And Fredrik’s breads always look beautiful!) x

  • I love baking; however, I’m not too fond of following directions. This sometimes leads to wonderful creations and other times…well, it doesn’t. I agree with Same that the directions are always easy to follow and often times it can be hard to find all of those ingredients!

    • This is true! I think the logicalness of the step by step progression is what I find so therapeutic about baking. x

  • Haha, this cracked me up. I love Sam’s writing voice.
    Also, I feel his pain! I baked a cake this week and the same thing happened to me with the water. I’m obviously not a baker with knowledge of ‘the code’ either, how do I get access to this club?!

    • Ha, just a lot of practice and recipe reading. And actually following the recipe. (Which Sam is not great at.)

  • I love that post! I never realised there was a baking ‘code’ but Sam’s got it sussed! Sounds like the florist is the best place for him to go to get back into your good books! Looking forward to your semi-final bake! X

    • Haha thank you so much! And as much as I love cake – I agree, the florist next time! πŸ˜‰ x

  • Sam is the cutest EVER!! Gah this line “the state of my side of the shoe cupboard” – cupboard?? It’s like I only ever hear that in Harry Potter!! Alas, if makes you feel any better – Sam – my husband and I have the same arrangement as you and Amanda. He cooks the main meals and I make the sides and treats!

    • We legitimately have a cupboard just like in HP! (Except it’s under attic eaves instead of stairs because we are in a top floor flat of a very old building.) xx

  • Haha this is the best! I Sam is a pretty great writer, very entertaining πŸ™‚ The baking code gets H as well. Good thing I handle the kitchen and he sticks to the dishes.

    • Hehe Sam likes to say that if he had a blog it’d be more popular than mine πŸ™‚ But I’ll pass on the compliment. I’d rather cook that do the dishes any day. I hate doing those darn dishes! x

  • Laughing through this whole post. I feel the exact.same.way!!!!! I hate baking and leave anything but the absolute simplest cookie recipe to my husband. I do however, love to cook. I find I can be more light or heavy handed and not completely ruin my dish. Baking is a science. I’m not good at science, lol!

    • Haha, I’m glad you two have that in common! I think Sam’s problem is that he doesn’t like to follow the recipe, but baking is a bit like chemistry and things react differently in different proportions so improvising correctly is difficult! xx

  • This is hilarious. Sam’s writing is always fun to read πŸ™‚ I had a bit of a disaster with a baking recipe… I substituted veggie shortening for butter in a shortbread cookie recipe (that I’d come up with in the first place!). I couldn’t get to the store, so I used what I had… and ended up with lumps that looked like rocks and tasted…gummy? Yeeeccchhh. Learned my lesson there. And it looks like Sam learned his, hahaha.

    • I’ve had some absolutely terrible baking disasters as well! Luckily, since I have complete editorial control over the blog they don’t make it on here for the public to read about. Shh… don’t tell! πŸ˜‰ Sam’s a great writer. I also love when he volunteers to write for the day. x

  • Ash @ The Nashvillian

    Haha, cute! It took me quite some time to get the hang of baking. I think I much prefer cooking, but with either it’s the end result that is so incredibly gratifying – to know I made something from scratch and it tastes so wonderful! I love that feeling. πŸ™‚ (Well, sometimes it doesn’t always turn out that way, but when it does, it’s a great feeling, haha)

  • This is so, so funny! My Rich decided one month to make a cheesecake to take to work for his birthday – sans recipe. You can imagine how that went!

  • Don’t feel bad, Sam–I’m awful at baking, too! πŸ™‚ Loved this post!

  • Ha ha – great to see Sam in the kitchen too! You wouldn’t catch Luke baking (unless it is a packet mixture, he rocks those)!

    • Sam rocks at cooking! He’s seriously talented in the kitchen…. but when it comes to baking- not so much πŸ™‚ x

  • amitygardens

    Good job, Sam! I will be expecting a cake when I visit!

    • How about I make the cake instead but Sam cooks dinner? πŸ˜‰ x

      • amitygardens

        I’ll take it!

  • Marielle

    Haha, aww. My boyfriend’s never had a solo baking experience yet, but he’s a pretty good assistant!

    • Sam makes a excellent assistant and I don’t think we’ll be reversing these roles again any time soon! x

  • haha awww, I do have to agree with him – the secret code totally gets me sometimes. I’ve taken to looking at videos on youtube if I’m not sure what a certain line of code means haha

    • That’s a good idea! Although I know Sam and he’d rather improvise than google a video. That’s probably why baking just isn’t for him! x

  • Sam is a great writer. I was cracking up in my cube. And I adore that he stuck his hand in the mix!!

    • It cracked me up when I read it for the first time and I knew what he was going to write about! Bless him. I was equally horrified, amused, and amazed when he did that. I literally laughed so hard that I cried. x

      • I mean, you’ve gotta hand it to the guy…. no pun intended. But it had to be a huge decision moment to think, “Seriously?? They want me to mix this with my hand?? I don’t know… I mean… Dales is never gonna let me live it down if I don’t finish this… I guess I’m doing it…”

  • haha, I’m with Sam, it’s all in code!!!

  • As teenagers, my twin brother tried to make chocolate chip cookies. He carefully lined up all of the ingredients listed on the Nestle bag. He carefully measured all of the ingredients. He not-so-carefully dumped them all in the same bowl at the same time, having not bothered to read the instructions for actually making the cookie dough.

    Since then, he’s learned to read recipes, and now all of us Long children are good cooks. But I had quite the laugh back then.

    • HA! That does sound like a cookie fiasco! Did anyone rescue him?

      That’s the frustrating thing about Sam’s baking – he’s an extremely talented cook! He’s so good at any savoury dish and he cooks blindly and likes to improvise. So I think the real struggle in his inability to follow recipes. Because in baking improvising can end disastrously! x

  • haha I love that Sam dreamed big for this one – but flowers are always a winner πŸ™‚

    • Some dreams are just too big. But seriously though, I always appreciate flowers. (And I think he’s right it was a petty argument over the state of the shoe cupboard – in that I meticulous ((perhaps obnoxiously?)) organise and line up the shoes and he just tosses his in creating chaos.) x

  • I know Sam! I agree.. I would have used all of the water too. I’m terrible at baking. I think it’s because I am more of a splash here, a dash there sort of person. I’m not good at specific directions and that my friend, is what baking is all about. I tried to make Amanda’s lemon, cream sauce pasta that is really easy and full of parmesan cheese and it just.. didn’t really have much flavour and was a bit dry and the cheese all clumped together. I think I did something wrong, kind of like the too much water thing.

    • Hi Haley! Sam here. I guess we’re just a couple of free spirits, right? We don’t want to be constrained by ‘convention’, hemmed in by ‘recipes’ and boring ‘measured amounts’, right? Long live us!