Some Sweet Advice on Celebrations & Competitions

18 Nov

Three things inspired this post today.

First, Thanksgiving is coming! This year we are going to my aunt & uncle’s house, so I don’t need to worry about assisting my mom with mashed potatoes or mac & cheese. Instead I’m focusing all of my efforts on the sweet side of things, and of course, honey butter.

Second, my former high school Journalism teacher, Ms. Syed, started following me on Twitter and invited me to come to her 1st period class’s bake-off! I was more than honored to be invited. Unfortunately, the BIG Radio Shopping Show is too far away for me to make it from Conant to Aurora by 10am. After I regretfully declined, she asked me to give her bakers some advice.

Finally, I’m gearing up to audition for the CBS Baking Show in three weeks and have been thinking about practicing some sweets that I don’t make too often.

The two things on my plate plus Ms. Syed’s first hour freshmen reading students’ bake-off made me think of some important baking advice that I want to share with you guys. These are especially important around the holidays.

Practice what you’re going to make before the big holiday or competition. By this I don’t mean you need to make the exact same item beforehand, but what you can do is practice the technique. If you’re planning to make a pie, make a tart with the same dough a few weeks in advance. Maybe you’re going to have secret ingredients in the competition to make a drop cookie. Master the chocolate chipper before you go to the bake-off.

Know what you’re not good at. Personally, I’m not good at cheesecakes. I think I’ve made one successful cheesecake in my life and so if I were going to be providing dessert at a big event or proving I’m a good little baker, I wouldn’t start with this one. However, I should probably work on it for my audition.

Always have parchment paper on hand. Whether you’re putting together cookies, cakes, brownies or even covering pretzels in chocolate, you will always be more successful with parchment paper. Pause and actually cut the paper to the size you need. Take it from the girl who does everything too quickly, this is a step when you should breathe and slow down.

Make something you want to eat! The most fun and rewarding part of baking is eating the results, right? Even though baking doesn’t always give the same opportunities to taste test like cooking does, it’s good to have a reference point so that you know what it’s supposed to smell and look like. Then when you do taste it, you’ll know that you did a good job.

Have fun. Dessert is an extra. It isn’t required in life. It’s something you get to pick, plan and polish off. It makes people happy and hyper, that’s why it pairs so well with coffee. Everyone loves the person that brings desserts!

Good luck CHS bakers!

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