A few weeks ago, a thought occured to me.
Anytime I find myself out and about and strike up a conversation, this invariably happens-
Stranger: "So what do you do for a living?''
Me: "Me? I'm a baker."
Stranger: (suddenly excited) "Yeah?! You ever watch Cake Boss/ Ace of Cakes/ Cupcake Wars? I love that show!
Now, I feel I should clarify something here. I harbor no ill will toward any of these shows. I am grateful for food shows and Food Network for bringing fantastic foods and cuisines into the public eye and (ideally) helping to create a more discerning, healthier, and gastronomically open-minded populous.
The problem, I feel, is the pedestal
The public look at these cakes, pies, pastries, and so on, watch them, drool over them, but DO NOT MAKE THEM. "Oh goodness, I WISH I could make that!" "Wow! How did they do that?! That's incredible! I can't imagine building that!" Beautifully executed food gets placed up on a pedestal- admired, never attempted. Tantalizing, but untouchable. This is the real reason so many of these shows are (appropriately) called "food porn." Exquisitely crafted food experiences that many people (assume they will) never get to actually experience.
You wish you could make that cake? That salmon? Those fascinating little cupcakes?
You can. They did.
Baking is like any other artistic field- in a way, it's a blend of art and science. Talent certainly is nice, but what do you NEED to become a baker? The following-
Anything else can be developed with time, patience, practice, and above all, the knowledge that failure is not to be feared.
As I reflected on all this, I made a decision- on this blog, I will dedicate a few entries to writing down some tips and procedures for how to make those beautiful cakes you see on the TV. Not really recipes per say- you can find cake and pastry recipes all over the net. I'll be offering you techniques- tidbits of information I've picked up and learned in my time as a bake. Want to learn how to keep your place in a long recipe? How to color and flavor (and make!) fondant? How to sculpt with marzipan? How to stack a cake so it looks like a skyscraper rather than the Leaning Tower of Pisa? No problem.
What do you guys think? Any special requests or ideas for what I should go over? Tell me in the comments!
Stay classy, folks!
About the Author
The Black Hat Baker, a.k.a. Matt Strenger, lives in SE Portland, Oregon as a professional baker. Here, Matt bakes, cooks, exercises, and explores, returning to his wife and their hobbit hole up Mt. Tabor to write about all of it.
Email the BHB at blackhatbakery(at)gmail(dot)com
Want to support the BHB and On The Bench? Click here!
The BHB Instagram