Growing up, our birthday cakes were from Duncan Hines box mixes and Betty Crocker cans of frosting. In fact, of all the birthday desserts I’ve had over the years, my favorite is still strawberry cake from a box and rainbow chip frosting from a can. Thanks, Mommy!
Anyway, the first time I tried baking a cake myself? Not so successful! I somehow managed to forget the eggs and ended up with a warm chocolate brick. I’d like to chalk that up to only being 11 – but seriously, there are only 4 ingredients required AND the box has pictures!
The first time I baked chocolate chip cookies from scratch – also a flop. I got chocolate chip cakies. Learning that baking powder does expire was a big lesson.
And then the first time [okay first 3 times] I tried making a pie? Well, lets just say I make a fantastic pie crust. With fruit soup in the middle. I did learn a fantastic tip though: If the pie doesn’t turn out the way you intended, crack the top, add ice cream and tell everyone you made cobbler!
Finally, my favorite – the first time I made up my own recipe for a cake as an adult? I think I was attempting a yogurt-fruit-coffee cake type thing. But what came out of my oven was a lumpy, soggy mess.
All this is to say…well, a few things:
1. I’m human! We all make mistakes, even Martha Stewart.
2. Mise en place – the concept of setting out your ingredients, pre-measured and in order, before you begin your recipe – really does help.
3. Expiration dates are there for a reason!
4. Improvisation isn’t likely to be successful the first time without some background knowledge on how ingredients work together.
Over time and with much practice, even I became better in the kitchen! Here’s some evidence – from early attempts at making mint chocolate truffles.
Figuring out how chocolate works.
Trying again, and again and again.
And eating all the imperfect ones. I swear that’s part of the learning process!