Bakers vs. Cooks

In the world of making food, there are two main divisions: bakers vs. cooks (not that it’s a battle, although that would make a fun fight sequence).  Now, there are some people who are both, but mostly people will tend toward one or the other.

I’m a cook.

I don’t really like to make cakes or cookies or things like that.  When I make sweet things, they are usually:

  • Cheesecake
  • Pot de creme
  • Creme brulee
  • Ice cream
  • Creme anglaise
  • Candied orange peels
  • Candied nuts
  • Rice krispy bars*

See a pattern there?  A lot of custards.  Why?  Because, at root, custard is a sauce. Hollandaise sauce?  A heck of a lot like custard.  I don’t bake so much as practice sauce management in the oven.  I’ll make muffins and scones and bread from time to time, but only because I really, really want homemade stuff to the point where it overcomes my reluctance.

Candying things = simmering things on the stove.  I also make a pretty mean caramel sauce, no corn syrup required.  I get making sauces.  Not a professional at them by any means, but I can conceptualize what I’m doing and wing it as necessary.  A roux is no stranger to me.

I was walking around in a movie store the other day (with Lee) and saw a DVD for Ace of Cakes. I was like, “A baking show?  Who watches a freaking baking show?!?”  This, from a girl who adores Heston Blumenthal’s Heston’s Feasts show with a passion.

But, for some reason, I hadn’t realized that bakers approach things the same way, more or less, making non-dessert food that involves…baking techniques.  Approaching cooking from a baker’s perspective.  I know, it’s obvious, but obvious things aren’t obvious if you don’t see them, not if you can’t.

I went to one cake, two cake to look at a recipe and scrolled through a bunch of them…and noticed a pattern.  Hamburger bun recipe…but not hamburgers.  Savory bread pudding for breakfast…not scrambled eggs.  I looked at the list of recipes to confirm it: breakfast dishes–all baking stuff; vegetables (2 recipes)–one involved baking the veg; two soups–not baking; two seafood recipes–not baking.  The rest?  All baking.

It’s a beautiful site, by the way, and if you like baking it will probably be fascinating; I certainly wanted to eat all of it.  But I don’t really feel a passion to make any of it.  If it doesn’t start with garlic hitting olive oil in a pan or carefully thickening some combination of eggs and cream, I have to work at my enthusiasm for a recipe.  But, truly, that’s just me.

*Okay, thought.  Rice krispy gingerbread house.  Or even igloo.  We’re going to try it later today.

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