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I used to be afraid of baking.
It seemed so unforgiving, unlike dinner each night, which allowed me to improvise and do things less precisely to hit the mark.
But my love of creating in the kitchen has led me to some wonderful mentors who helped me work through my baking issues. Adrienne Kane taught me how to make bread with her thorough ode to the staff of life, The United States of Bread. I learned to relax around yeast and appreciate its idiosyncrasies. I came to understand that mastering bread was more about getting a feel for good dough and not about rigidly weighing ingredients on a kitchen scale.
Tara O’Brady and Malin Elmlid helped me fine-tune those skills with slow rises and sourdoughs. Feel was still important to achieving a perfect crumb but so was sight and smell.
And now I have someone else to lean on and get me familiar with the mannerisms of doughnuts, cakes, pies and pastries.