Sunday, June 20, 2010


I figured out what makes me different from a hobbyist baker. I think.

It starts with a simple thing, really. My neighbor is gluten free, and yet still willing to be a guinea pig to my culinary experimentation. My plan was to make chocolate cupcakes anyway, why not try and make gluten free ones?

(Obviously, the answer to that is "You don't have to make them gluten free you crazy person, so what are you thinking?")

At first, a hobbyist and I may proceed upon the same course. There is an internet, and it has many many recipes on it, even for crazy faced gluten free chocolate cupcakes. Some of those recipes make TASTY crazy faced gluten free cupcakes. At this point the hobbyist might say, "Hey look, a recipe from the Babycakes folks! It's gluten free and vegan! I'll use that!" and then go shopping and start baking.

I find the same recipe and then I take the path less travelled by. Yes, I hear from many sources that this would be a tasty, tested, workable solution. But it isn't mine. And it requires a lot of ingredients I don't have in the house. Things like fava bean flour. And xanthan gum. Now I love shopping for ingredients, but am I going to use fava bean flour that often? And xanthan gum is expensive for how little I need. Surely there is a better way? Oh, and the vegan thing is a useful notion, I'll make mine vegan, too. Because I am crazy.

So first I find some gluten free flour formulas that contain things I already have in the house. Yes, I have tapioca flour hanging around. Then I look at a whole bunch of recipes noting similarities. I write down some notes. Some other notes. A few crazy wild hair suggestions. Then I grab the scale and start making some stuff. And it goes horribly wrong. I try again, restraining myself to the scientific method and only changing one variable. (this is really hard, because I want to change six.) There is edibility. Again. Well, ok. Ooo! Coconut milk could add fat and moisture! Not bad, but I really miss eggs. And butter. And flour. Once again. Hey, these are tasty! I would eat these! Did I write down what I did? Oh good, I did.

And so it goes. Do I need a gluten free vegan chocolate cupcake recipe right now? No. But it's good to have. When will I make it next? Depends on what the neighbors think of it. I can always change it a bit here, a nudge there. Always something that could be better.

Then my day off comes to a close.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


It comes up, inevitably.

Something along the lines of, "For the love of all that is good and glorious in the world how can you work with all of this stuff and not weigh a gazillion tons!"

Here's two secrets: 1. When you work with something every day it becomes just stuff, a "product", less of a consummation devoutly to be wished. Even if that something is well and truly beloved. 2. I ain't skinny.

I'm not bad off. In fact, if you look around my place of employment, you would see a bunch of people up to their elbows in butter, sugar and dough all appearing to be relatively healthy. But truth is, last time I saw the doctor I was told to lose a few pounds. Like at least 10. Seriously. And that was the first time a doctor has ever flat out told me that.

And of course, that was the day before making some 400 rhubarb mini pies with a ginger crumb topping. I really love rhubarb. And ginger. And pies. Especially small ones.

Since then I have given up nothing (except eating my fill of rhubarb mini pies). But I am walking to work more. I am watching portions as much as I can without making myself crazy, adding a bit more exercise. I bought a scale that was big enough for me. So far it is ok. I am losing weight, at a reasonably healthy rate. It isn't fun, it isn't my favorite thing, and I certainly hope it will be worth it in the long run.

But I'm not going to let it stop me from finding inspiration for a chocolate tart in a twix bar.