So there are all these things that I should know but often didn't. Maybe it's because my mom was born in Mexico. Maybe I spent too much time reading and daydreaming. Maybe it was because I spent my high school years in a teeny Christian private high school. Who knows but there are many things I've had to play catch up in my young adult years and I'm still learning. For instance I didn't watch Seinfeld until they started showing reruns. Yada yada yada . . .
In this case it was because my mom only cooked things that could be put in the microwave or premade and frozen to pop into an oven. Even cookies. Baking has been a very intimidating and mysterious hobby. But I finally took the plunge and mostly thanks to the internet and some experience these are things I have learned about baking. I figured I'd share and save anyone who doesn't know these things the trouble.
#1 Vegan baking is gross. Not like eyeball sandwiches gross but like eating plain cardboard gross. Sure there may be a decent cupcake out there. I have had a good cookie or two. But in my opinion, butter, sugar, and eggs are a magic elixir on my taste buds. Beef too. Not necessarily in baking but one more reason I should just stop buying vegan and vegetarian cookbooks.
#2 The best banana recipe uses bananas that are almost black. Because they are sweeter the riper they get.
#3 If the batter doesn't taste great neither will your muffins. Or cookies. Or fruit bread. Though a slather of peanut butter or butter and jelly should remedy that. Yes I taste the batter. Even the ones with raw eggs. In fact, especially the ones with raw eggs since that means it's a cake or a cookie.
#4 Fruit juice sucks as a sugar replacement. There have been situations where it makes a nice substitute for water but just because the juice has 38 grams of sugar doesn't mean your batter will taste like it does. If it doesn't see #3.
#5 Renting a home/apartment will mean you will always have a sh*tty oven. Even the gas ones.
#6 Toaster ovens can often bake better than your rental's oven. They sell ones like this, that cooks TWO WHOLE CHICKENS and though they aren't perfect, they rule for those of us who have a problem with patience, since there is no preheating and often things cooks quicker in the toaster oven.
#7 Greased the pans! Or buy non stick bake ware but I am notorious for this. Baking plus no butter or spray equals very hard to clean dishes.
#8 A dough hook really is a hook that kneads dough. Like bread dough. Not donuts. I'm not sure why I thought it had something to do with donuts.
#9 I'm still not sure what makes baking powder so much different than baking soda. But there is a difference for sure.
#10 Baking really isn't so scary. Most combinations of dry something like flour, something greasy like butter or oil, something sweet like sugar or honey, something wet like water or milk, some spices, maybe an egg, and some add ins and you're on your way to creating something at least edible. Even my son can bake. In fact his first "all by himself" toaster oven cake was quite tasty.
That said, most of my baking has yet to taste better than anything I've bought at a store. But darn if I'm not gonna keep trying.