Most people fear pastry due to its supposedly anal-retentive exactness. This is something I don’t really understand. Why would anyone shy away from baking because you use exact measurements? This means that the guesswork is eliminated and you’re guaranteed to get the same result time and again. Yes, there is science behind the chemical reactions that generate your results but for the most part the home cook need not worry.
This exactness is why we bakers are so obsessed with our scales. (Future archaeologists will excavate our kitchens and assume they’re were worshipped as gods.) The scales enable us to promise customers that the muffin you had last week will be just as good as the one you have today.
Of course, it’s not all rules and measures. When it comes to flavorings, we do taste and alter to fit the other menu items or reflect what’s in season. Switching out spices, liquors, fruits, or even types of flours and sweeteners at times allows us certain creativities within our scientific borders.
Garrett McCord is a freelance and staff food writer. He’ll be working at Grange restaurant all September. You can read his work in Edible Sacramento, Sacramento News and Review, and his blog, Vanilla Garlic.