The first lightbulb moment was when I realized that baking is a science. Back in the day of all of my gluten free disasters, I thought that a good recipe was all you needed. Just follow the recipe and everything should turn out well. This is WRONG. Recipes are shorthand. They give you a list of ingredients and the most basic instructions on how to put them together into a finished product, but they leave so much out.
What recipes leave out are the science – the rules – that all of baking, even gluten free baking, follow. There are formulas and procedures that guarantee success. Read that a second time, because I did say guarantee. If you follow the formulas and procedures (that aren’t necessarily in the recipe) then everything works. If you don’t follow the formulas or procedures then disaster results…..in a very predictable way.
My second “lightbulb moment” came when I realized that baking is also an art. Most everything about baking improves when you treat is as a science, but there are still some aspects of it that are a craft. For example, when you’re making bread, the amounts that are given for water are just a guideline. (No one ever told you this, right?)
The consistency of the dough always governs how much water you add. If you’ve added the full amount that the recipe calls for and the dough is still not right, then you absolutely add more. Or, if you’ve added 3/4 of the water and the dough looks just like it should, then you definitely don’t add any more water. This is not a GF thing; it is a baking thing. And so, in order to bake bread, you need to learn what the dough should look like. And it’s not hard; it just takes seeing the right dough consistency enough that your intuition automatically says, “Stop! The bread dough is perfect right now.”
At this point, you may be thinking, “There is Absolutely. No. Way. that I can learn or even want to learn all of that. If baking is going to be a science, then I’ll just keep buying the manufactured stuff and suffer through it.
I totally get where you’re coming from, but the rules of baking don’t really take a lot of time or effort to learn.
It’s kind of like weather. At some point when you were a child, you learned that if the sky is cloudy it might rain. And if the sky is blue, with no clouds, then it’s not going to rain. You just have to look at the sky and you know what is going to happen. Sure, weather can be a lot more complicated than that, but you don’t really need to know about barometer and pressure troughs to have a good grasp of whether you need to take an umbrella.
Baking is exactly the same. There are a few general rules to learn and then you understand what is going on. Understanding bread baking becomes as simple as understanding that rain falls from clouds.
In the next email which I’ll probably send out Friday I’m going to start teaching you some of those rules and I’m going to tell you exactly what causes the three most common gluten bread disasters:
1) bread that won’t rise in the pan,
2) bread that falls in the oven, and
3) bread that falls after it comes out of the oven
Right now though, I want to do a bit of an experiment. I want you to scroll down and leave a comment telling me the things that you know to be true about gluten-free baking. I want you to document what you know right now, so that you can come back to it in a few days, and realize how much you’ve learned and how easily! It doesn’t have to be long, just finish this sentence: The things that I know for certain about gluten free baking are ….
P.S. If you’ve already taken one of my classes, your comment can include what you used to know about gluten free baking and what you know now.