Dear 100 Hour Board,
I want to bake more cakes, try different recipes, troubleshoot them, perfect them, etc. But I don't know how to do it without wasting ingredients and decent cakes. I'm far from a professional, but I'm not a novice either. So it's not like I could really charge much. The cakes I make look pretty good for a homemade cake but definitely don't have that professional look yet. I'm not too concerned about how to practice the decorating. There's a number of ways I can do that. So my question is how do I practice my baking without wasting a bunch of cakes and other desserts?
You could always just give them to me! I'm joking (unless you actually want to. If you do my email is firstname.lastname@example.org), but one thing you could do is give away your baked goods to others. I do this frequently because I like to bake as well and I always end up with way more than I could possibly eat. Here are some other suggestions to consider:
- Offer to Bake for Others if they buy the ingredients: Trade your knowledge of cooking for ingredients by teaching your friends to bake. I'm teaching some friends how to make empanadas this weekend and they're providing all the ingredients so it's a great trade.
- Gift People Baked Goods: I love baking things to give to other people. It's a great way to brighten up someone's day. Often times I'll bake a batch of cookies and keep some for myself but then give the rest away. That way the food doesn't get wasted, you do something nice for your friends, and you get warm fuzzies for doing service. It's a win-win for everyone involved.
- Watch Cooking Videos on YouTube: When I'm learning a new recipe or trying to up my game I like to watch several videos to learn the different techniques and get a feel for how the food is supposed to look and come together. A few channels that do a really good job of showing good techniques are Basics with Babish and Food Wishes.
- Read Cookbooks: Reading cookbooks is another way to improve your techniques. I personally like cookbooks that explain how to adjust recipes or explain the science behind cooking. Two of my favorites are I'm Just Here for the Food and I'm Just Here for More Food by Alton Brown. He explains in depth how adjusting the amounts of each ingredients affects the final product. It's a great combination of science and cooking.
- Bake Smaller Batches: Scale down the batches you're making. Some things are harder to divide than others—like eggs—but even those can be scrambled and divided in two. Making smaller batches are a great way to try recipes a lot without wasting so many ingredients.
- Freeze Your Baked Goods: If you have the space in your freezer, many baked goods freeze well. That way you can bake when you want to and just save the food for another occasion.
These are just a few ways to up your skills. I hope these help. If any readers have other suggestions please leave a correction below.