Cook or Baker: Which are you?

It seems to me that the world of people who choose to spend time in the kitchen is divided between those who love to cook and those who love to bake (although there are many who cross the divide happily and successfully…)

Which hat do you wear: cook or baker?

Which hat do you wear: cook or baker?

I definitely fall on the cooking side: as you’ve probably already gathered from previous posts, I don’t always follow a recipe and if I do, the recipe is really only a ‘guideline’ that is fully open to interpretation.   I love that there is always something that can be changed, added, substituted…that is what makes the dish my own.   Cooking is all about the alchemy that happens, for better or worse, when you start to play with the rules.

Now, when it comes to baking, I have been known to make cookies on a (very) rare occasion, there is the annual tortiere pie crust at Christmas, and I will turn my hand to pizza dough a few times a year (in search of the perfect recipe*) but that is about my limit.

I stand in awe of those who bake.  It is a science and I never underestimate the chemistry and precision involved in making sure that you have the exact proportions of baking soda/baking powder, the ingredients are at the right temperature, the yeast has been left long enough, etc.   I have come to accept that I just don’t have the patience to be a good baker.

Perhaps this is because I did not grow up in a baking family: although there was one summer that my sister decided to find the perfect chocolate brownie recipe and it took me about 3 years to lose the 10 pounds I put on as the taste tester…

In all the comments I received on a recent post about mother-related food memories, I was struck by how many of the memories were about baking: biscuits, cheesecake, pies, etc.   I wonder if it is because of the delicious smells,  getting to lick the spoon or beaters, the anticipation of waiting for something scrumptious to come out of the oven?

I totally understand why I cook but I’m really curious to hear from those who love to bake.   What is about baking that makes you happy?

*And if anyone has a great pizza dough recipe, please send it along…

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About kate magee

I am a lifelong foodie who lives in Toronto and spends much too much of my time thinking, preparing, eating and writing about food...
This entry was posted in Cooking, Random musings and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Cook or Baker: Which are you?

  1. fransiweinstein says:

    Another great post! I’m solidly in the cooking category, for all the same reasons as you are. I don’t bake for the same reasons as well, although I do come from a baking family. My other reason for not baking is I have NO feel for dough. It’s just a lump of stuff to ne. I have no idea what it’s supposed to feel like when it’s ready to be rolled out. I did make cookies once about 13 years ago. They were good. That was it, though. No pizza dough recipe. Sorry.

    • katem5 says:

      I think the only reason I keep going back to pizza dough is that I love the yeasty smell as it rises and punching it down – but totally agree with you. I too have no feel for dough…

      • fransiweinstein says:

        Okay, that makes sense. Save it for those days you’re frustrated. Give that dough a punch and poof, you’re over it!

  2. Barb says:

    I’m a cook, which I think has to do with my patience level more than anything. However, I love to make pizzas and load them up with all kinds of interesting stuff. In the summer we put them on the bbq to bake.
    This pizza dough recipe is easy and will make two pizzas if you’re like me and prefer a thin crust:

    1 TBS quick rise yeast (Fleischmann’s in a jar, or the 1/4 oz. pkg)
    2 tsp sugar
    2/3 cup warm water
    2 cups flour
    1 TBS cornmeal
    1/4 tsp salt
    1 tbs olive oil

    Combine yeast, 1 tsp. sugar, and warm water in large bowl. Let sit for 10 mins.
    Combine the remaining dry ingredients in a small bowl.
    After 10 mins. stir olive oil into yeast mixture, then stir in about 1-3/4 cups of the flour mixture.
    Turn it onto a smooth surface and knead for 3-4 mins., using the extra flour to prevent from sticking.
    Put dough back into large bowl, cover it with a towel and let sit for an hour.
    Using the extra flour, roll it out into one thick crust or two thin ones.

  3. i love to do both. cooking, however, is much more relaxing for me than baking, probably because you have more creative license instead of baking’s somewhat scientific requirements. when i bake, it’s usually with an event (holiday, dinner party, etc.) or a purpose (need a gift, told to bring dessert to a party, treats needed at the office). unfortunately, it’s past baking time in north texas. once we hit this time of year, the only oven that goes on is the toaster oven because it seems pretty silly to run the AC and yet heat the house up with the oven.

    • katem5 says:

      Definitely agree that baking is much more of a cold weather and an “on demand/on call” thing…for some reason I always associate baking with winter (which probably involves more snow in Toronto but I think we share the same challenge of summer heat / humidity with North Texas). I am intrigued about the comment this morning for doing pizza on the BBQ – no oven required in the summer months!

      • Oh yeah–I should have mentioned that we’ve done that. We’re going to try pizza on the Big Green Egg this summer.

      • katem5 says:

        I love the Big Green Eggs – they always make me smile when I see one, and remind me of Dr Suess for some reason 🙂 Tomorrow’s night pizza will be in the oven on the pizza stone but the SO just upgraded to a Weber so will definitely be trying out the BBQ version. Keep me posted on how it goes on the BGE…

  4. Megan says:

    I’m a baker. I do decently at cooking, but at heart it’s the sweet stuff I love. But the thing is, being creative and seeing recipes as only a guide is how I approach baking. There are rules to it sure, like the balance between baking powder and baking soda that you mentioned, but there are rules to cooking too that seem bizarre to me. Like how when you skillet fry chicken breasts, it’s better to cut them up after you cook it than before because it keeps them from getting dry. It makes no sense. I guess we’re the two opposites, each comfortable on one side of the kitchen.

  5. Barb says:

    For the bbq I use one of those pizza pans with the perforated bottom. It grills nicely through the little holes on the bottom and melts down on top.

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