Our dissenting opinions over substitutions and correct ingredients tend to slightly overlap our disagreement over exact measurements and “just winging it”. But in an effort to really give you a good idea of what it is like to cook with us in the kitchen let me explain a little bit. I tend to follow a regimented routine when setting out to cook a meal. I will get out my cookbook, figure out exactly what I need at the store and then when I return and unpack my ingredients I am ready to go to work. I tend to cook with a fair amount of precision and really enjoy carrying out a recipe to its full completion and intention. The way I see it, a recipe can’t be fairly judged if I don’t use the exact measurements. This free-style way of measuring creates a completely different dish. Maybe that is Type A to the extreme, but I find it especially crucial in baking. The entire concept of baking is predicated on exact measurements. You could put a little too much baking soda and not enough baking powder and your cake might look more like a crepe. Oops. Is there room in cooking for eyeballing the olive oil or an extra dash of salt? Sure. After that, you cross my boundary.
How ironic that we are choosing to talk about strictly following recipes right after Jose Andres gave the analogy that, in life, following a recipe too closely will limit creativity and spontaneity. I will try not to let the support of an acclaimed chef get to my head…
I will start by saying that, like J, I am extremely type A so my rather imprecise way of “measuring” would seem like a character anomaly. Despite the fact that I am here to argue that exact measurements are fun-suckers, I do think they are crucial for the science of baking. I can’t argue with J that the exact interaction of ingredients in cakes, muffins, scones, cookies etc. is essential to the finished product. Cooking, however, almost necessitates inexact measurements for the serendipitous over-zesting or under-mixings that lead to discoveries. Does anyone know how chocolate chip cookies were discovered? Before Ruth Wakefield cookies were empty, chocolate-less mounds of dough. Although there are different versions to the story, I subscribe to the theory that she created chocolate chip cookies as a result of a happy accident.
Cheers to making mistakes in the kitchen and may we always find a lesson in un-risen rolls.
Agree to disagree.