The Rules of Internet Baking



As a professional baker, Pinterest and other blogging websites have become a tool I use every day to keep up with current trends.  Over the years I consciously become smarter choosing at searching for recipes.  I have also seen the “Pinterest fails” in my own kitchen and I wanted to share some basic “tools” to take with you as you search and ultimately successfully bake in your own kitchen. 

1. Trust your source, not the picture.  The internet is flooded with recipes that anyone can post.  Look for recipes that have more than 20 reviews.  Until you find a blogger/source you trust do not assume the recipe is written accurately, or that the beautiful picture reflects how the dessert tastes.  The same is true of cookbooks.  I have learned this lesson the hard way and have been continuously disappointed by randomly picking a recipe based solely on how well the picture was taken, not the reputation of the source.   

2. Practice makes perfect OR stick with what you know.   Let me tell you a story from my baking past: I was going to a party where I wanted to make an impression.   I thought making homemade caramels would be just the trick and I had never made them before.   In reality they were too oozy, created a huge mess, and the chick that brought in a dessert sampler from Sam’s Club saved the day.   Give yourself enough time to run a test batch.  If you are in a time crunch:  it is better to stick with what you know than risk wasting your time, food cost, and pride. 

3. Follow baking recipes exactly.  There are some minor changes you can make: like substituting out nutmeg for cloves, or milk for buttermilk.  Generally, you owe it to the recipe to follow it exactly the first time you make it.  You can start putting your own twist on it AFTER you have made it at least once. 

4. Set a timer, literally.  When you start your internet search give yourself a time limit.   If you are spending more than 5 minutes searching for a specific recipe you have fallen into the Pinterest trap and you need to get out fast! 

5. I dislike any recipe that says you can use a plastic Zip Lock bag to use as a piping bag.  IT NEVER WORKS like you want it to.  Invest in a real piping bag with basic tips.  You can find them at any Walmart or hobby store.  If you do not have a piping bag it is better to go with a “rustic” look and embrace imperfection.   Do not try and decorate a fancy dessert with the wrong equipment. 

6. Know the importance of consistent portioning.  When you bake a cupcake or a cookie, the best tip I can give you is to use a scoop to portion.  This has everything to do with bake time. Think about it:  If a smaller cookie bakes faster than a larger cookie you are going to have a sheet full of cookies that are either baked too long, or under baked. 

7.0 The last rule: Stop dreaming about baking and actually do it!  Homemade baking is so rare these days and it truly is a way to show you love and care about someone.   Take risks, have fun, and if all else fails: listen to eighties love ballads and drink alcohol while you are in the kitchen