Earlier this week, I found myself obsessing over balance.
Specifically, how on earth was I supposed to piggyback one braid of cranberry-walnut dough atop another and expect it to be balanced enough to stay on?
I’d heard of difficulties in this area; I’d even seen one picture of a mutant cranberry-walnut celebration bread in which the top layer of this double-decker braided bread had slipped off, forming an “Alien”-like doughy growth.
Given my recent mishaps while baking my way through Peter Reinhart’s bread bible, the Bread Baker’s Apprentice, I was certain that Alien bread was in my very near future.
But if this weekly baking challenge has taught me anything, it’s that the trying is what’s important.
So I pulled out the bread flour and let the baking begin …
I’ve always envied people who can look in a fridge, grab a bunch of things and whip together an impressive meal.
The times that I’ve done that, I’ve managed to oh, muster up a ham scramble.
As someone who entered the kitchen fairly late in life, my insecurities always get the better of me. So when it comes to cooking, I’m much more of a planner — I like to think things through a fair bit first if I’ve never made a dish before. I’ll look up dozens of recipes before settling on what to make. And I’ll read a recipe several times over to plan any changes or additions before setting foot in the kitchen.
But, watching the ease and freedom of chefs who cook purely by instinct — that confidence always gets me. I can’t help but feel like the child on a tricycle, watching far braver kids whizzing past on ten-speed bikes.
How to bridge that gulf?
In the kitchen of a little beach cottage on Nantucket, I started taking baby steps.