There's a new realization creeping in these days. It was slow at first, but lately it's been more of a slap in the face, ice water dumped over the head sort of understanding about who I am and where I stand in my relationship with the kitchen.
I'm assuming you have even the slightest interest in the ramblings of my psyche, since you are reading my blog, aren't you? So, I'm going to say it. Right here, right now.
I am a baker.
OK, there, the truth's out.
You may be wondering why that matters. I mean, obviously I'm a baker. I bake. I post the recipes for the goods that come out of my oven here on this blog all the time.
Those of you who spend any time in the kitchen, whether it's for pleasure or a job, know that there is a difference between a cook and a baker. Allow me to explain.
A baker thrives off of the scientific nature of combining specific amounts of things, secure in the knowledge that 1 cup of this, 2 tablespoons of that, and 1 teaspoon of the other thing mixed up just right and baked at 350 for exactly 18 minutes will yield the perfect crumb or the perfect lightness or crispness or creaminess that a recipe requires. A baker knows the importance of measurements and following a recipe as its written so that the chocolate cake does not fall in the oven. A baker is precise. Perhaps a little OCD, even.
A cook would wince with pain from reading that paragraph above. A cook lives in the world of pinches and dashes and tasting as you go. While the kitchen is a science lab to the baker, it is an art studio to the cook. Cooking allows the freedom of just throwing things together. It's quite possible for the measuring cups to lie idle for an eternity in the cook's kitchen, collecting dust as the chef whips up miracles in a pan with only her eyes and taste buds to guide her.
What I have learned is that I am a baker. I am a measurer and a recipe follower. Even when I cook, I'm not comfortable without following a list of steps. First this, then that. I crave the ritual nature of the Recipe. Even if I've made a dish hundreds of times before, I'll likely measure out at least some of the ingredients.
For whatever reason, I've always wanted to be a cook. I'd love to allow myself the sort of spontaneous freedom that can come with cooking. But I can't deny my true nature.
Must... take... measurements...
So I've decided to just own it. I'm a baker. I bake. If it goes in a pan that goes in the oven, I can rock it.
Most recently, I tried out the cookies you've seen throughout this post. Thin, crisp, chocolate almond laceys. They're sweet, they're buttery, and they're covered in chocolate. What's not to love?
Chocolate Almond Lacey's, Gluten-Free
recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit
makes about 2 dozen
1/2 C. whole unsalted almonds with skins
2 T. gluten-free rolled oats
5 T. unsalted butter
6 T. sugar
2 T. light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. honey
1 T. gluten-free flour (such as sorghum or rice)
1/4 tsp. salt
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
- Preheat the oven to 350 F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Pulse almonds and oats in food processor until coarse meal forms. Set aside.
- Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add both sugars and honey and whisk until blended and sugar dissolves, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Add nut mixture, flour, and salt to butter/sugar mix and stir until well blended.
- Spoon batter by 2 tsp. portions onto baking sheets, spacing 2 1/2 inches apart (the size and spacing here is important to avoid the cookies spreading together).
- Using your fingertips or the back of a spoon, pat cookies to 1/4-inch thickness, pushing jagged edges to form smooth circles.
- Bake each sheet of cookies until dark golden brown and cookies spread out into a thin layer 8-10 minutes. Cool cookies on pan for several minutes, then slide cookies on parchment onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
- Using a pastry brush, brush half of each cookie with melted chocolate. Let stand until chocolate is set, about 2 hours. Store between sheets of parchment in an airtight container.