I’m hanging out in Seattle today with my BFF Megan @ Wanna Be A Country Cleaver. We’re sippin’ on a Trenta and watching the world go by the harbor. OK, that would be *awesome* but that’s not really happening. I am however Guest Posting on her behalf today, so be sure to pay us a visit.
Go ahead…I’ll wait………………..
Hooray! You’re back! I sure hope you enjoyed Megan’s hospitality and those sweet little somethings that I whipped up one day.
Speaking of whipping up stuff, you may have noticed by now that, unless otherwise specified, the vast majority of the recipes featured here on the blog are my own. While I have read extensively about cooking science, methods, and practices, most of my recipes start with me just flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants in the kitchen and hoping for the best. Then if whatever concoction is fab, I hurriedly try to remember what it was that I did so that it can be written down and replicated.
Given that I have four growing boys that insist on being fed on a regular basis–preferably 30 minutes ago–some days winging it is the way of survival. But rest assure that by the time a recipe hits the pages of Comfortably Domestic, it has been extensively tweaked and tested until my family deems it fit for consumption by the masses.
Some recipes only need a half dozen trials while some need three times that many.
A perfected recipe can be just like a slow moving train plugging along toward a destination–eventually it gets there, and when it does, it will be delicious.
I’ve been on a recipe development bender lately, which means I’ve been researching and actually taking notes when I’m working in the kitchen. (Sometimes I’m organized like that.) Since I’m always blathering on about what I think you should be cooking, I thought it might be fun to give ya an inside look at the mechanics of my recipe development process.
I promise to omit the pictures of me banging my head against the wall and throwing a fit-worthy-of-a-toddler when I can’t quite get something right. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid of sharing a failure (or two) along the way, it’s just that holding a piece of camera equipment while I’m behaving like a 3 year old probably isn’t a good idea.
We’ve all been there.
For starters, proper attire is a must. Whether I’m just researching methods or planning to play with food, I always wear an apron and some comfy footwear. Don’t roll your eyes at me! I can’t even think in the kitchen without and apron on, and although I don’t wear shoes in the house, they are essential when I’m planning to stand for hours on a wood floor.
Once properly dressed for The Cause, I break out some reference material–usually a minimum of four volumes. I always start with an idea of what I’d like to make. If I’m really
obsessed motivated with the idea, I’ll probably take a few notes for awhile until I get around to fleshing it out. In this particular instance, I was researching methods of marble cake. I look at at least half a dozen different methods, compare ingredients, and try to make sense of the ingredient ratios used with each method.
Once I feel like I have a handle on the ingredient ratios and the science behind the method, I clear the table and get to work– just me, a notebook & a pencil. I spend a lot of time jotting down the ingredients or flavors that I want to factor in, along with any other ideas for the end application. Then I read and prepare the recipe in my head. I ask myself a lot of questions, like: Does it make sense? Will that flavor really work, or now that I see it on paper does it sound gross? Am I missing any key elements? After the self-inquisition, I will likely spend even more time crossing out some of the ideas and adding a few others.
Once I’ve cleared the mental hurdles, I will write the first trial of the recipe on a clean sheet of paper so that I can remember what the heck I’m talking about. When developing the recipe for Chocolate Loves Vanilla Cake, I started with a cake recipe that I’d previously nailed down to use as a “base” for the cake.
Often Son #2 hovers over my shoulder and laughs at my crazy shorthand. This particular note sent him into a giggle fit that lasted for hours. Seriously.
Once I think I’ve got a recipe worth trying, I get down to business in the kitchen testing the recipe. In my little world, the recipe trial process isn’t nerve-wracking at all because every recipe I test turns out perfectly the very first time I make it. I’m a culinary genius!
The clean up afterward is also a breeze because the Mutant Elmo Army shows up and does all the dishes for me. And washes my floor. And gives me a pedicure.
I hope you know that I am kidding.
My kitchen often looks like this in the midst of it all. If I’m lucky, the mess doesn’t spread to the other counter, but usually it does. The recipe being tested is rarely what I was hoping for the first time around. I’ll try to guess what went awry, make changes to the recipe, and try, try again. Baking recipes can take several months before I get it right. Sometimes I scrap the recipe all together.
Just keepin’ it real. 😉
But when I do get it right, I can’t wait to share it with you guys here on the blog! I so appreciate that you guys come back day after day to read my ramblings. Thank you.