Why baking requires the buddy system

My family has a joke about my affection (or lack there of) for the oven. The joke goes that when we owned our catering company I wasn’t allowed to touch the oven. Top of the range was my domain. Cooking, mixing, creating delicious concoctions were right up my alley. But baking? A definite NO.

It is a known fact that I have a minor problem with authority. I find it against my nature to follow directions to the letter. I also may have a small impulse control issue and a need for immediate gratification as well. All these…quirks…are well documented in oral and written accounts. You see, baking is a science not an art form. You need precise measurements, times and temperatures for successful outcomes. What you cannot have is any kind of lack in discipline. I’m screwed.

And, yes, I may have set one or two (or four) towels on fire by grabbing the closest thing to remove an item from the oven instead of the appropriately named oven mit. I, perhaps, have forgotten to set the timer as well and turned bacon, cookies or a chocolate cake into charcoal.

All of these things may or may not be true of the past but not my present. I have worked very hard to overcome my baking barrier. I make coffee cake, bread and even bagels from scratch. Most of what I make is edible and a majority even delicious. But I will admit that I do require a baking buddy to keep me on the path to proper procedure. Someone to double-check the instructions and make sure that I keep an eye to time and temperature.

This is where Leah comes in. Last week we made absolutely beautiful bagels together, but I doubt they would have been if she hadn’t kept a diligent eye on me (wooden spoon in hand). For example, the recipe calls for the bagels to be boiled for 30 seconds per side. I was more inclined to 30 seconds total. Impulse control and impatience in action.

Baking buddies are clearly vital to a successful outcome as you can see from the results below. And the best part? Besides getting to hang out with a great friend for a few hours was sitting down with fresh-out-of-the-oven bagel (plain and spinach) dripping with butter and savoring the moment.

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