Baking as Chemistry, Plus Link Love

Growing up with a PhD chemist as a father, I always tried to be a good scholar of the scientific arts. Throughout high school, I took “enriched” biology and chemistry classes in an attempt to impress him. However, as genuine as my attempts were, I ended up doing more harm than good — I was in way over my head. Asking him for help with my homework almost always ended in a shouting match.

“How do you not remember this stuff?” he’d ask. “We went over this last time.”

“Because I’m not a freakin’ science genius, that’s why!” I’d shout, slamming my book and running off in a tizzy.

And although we may not recognize it as such, baking is a form of chemistry. It relies on the interaction of various ingredients and the way they behave with each other. It’s also very sensitive — flub a measurement and your tasty experiment is screwed.

In the home kitchen, there are two kinds of people — cooks and bakers. For cooks, recipes are simply a guide to the final destination. For bakers on the other hand, recipes provide a precise roadmap. I consider myself to be pretty good at both.

And luckily, I’m a lot better at baking than I ever was at chemistry. Well, “real” chemistry, anyway. This almost makes me feel better about the shouting matches I had with my dad, the exams I nearly failed, and the Bunsen burner I couldn’t figure out how to light. So, I guess my dad’s attempts to whip me into chemistry shape didn’t completely fall by the wayside. I can certainly whip up a mean baked good.

And so can these folks, who I’d like to give a little link love to today. They’re seriously schooling me in the baking department and I’ve been inspired by their creations. I dare you not to have sugary daydreams about these desserts — they’re amazing!

Lemon Loaf from Pass the Sushi

Doused in lemon syrup and topped with lemon glaze, this beautiful loaf can pass as a dessert or breakfast. I like that.

6-Layer Rich Chocolate Malted & Toasted Marshmallow Cake from Sweetapolita

Look at this! It’s beyond amazing. I am — for once — at a loss for words.

Sweet and Salty Dark Fudge Brownies with Pretzel Bites and Peanut Butter Frosting from Okie Dokie Artichokie

Fudge? Yes. Pretzels. Yes. Peanut butter? Yes. Need I say more? The perfect flavors, plus the pretzel nugget on top is super cute.

Cookies ‘N Cream Oreo Fudge Brownies from Kevin & Amanda

Yep, they went there. There are Oreos baked into these brownies. Oreos! Brilliant!

So, which are you? A better cook or a better baker? What have you seen on the interwebs lately that inspired you? Please share!

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10 thoughts on “Baking as Chemistry, Plus Link Love

  1. Beautiful writing, Bobbi. :p

    Thanks so much for the link lurve! That is super sweet and I’m loving all this food blogger to food blogger support. You are awesome.

    Well, I am most definitely a cook first. Maybe because it’s more flexible, maybe easier to whip up a dish of food without having to measure anything out that truly satisfies me personally and creatively. I find that I can most effectively use techniques from all different schools of cuisine in that way. But, I am also definitely trying my hand in a more assertive way within the realm of baking…as difficult and sometimes frustrating those times can be. I want to get to a point where I can confidently create a baking recipe without having to consult a cookbook or other source for technique and/or measurements. I’m hoping the baking and
    pastry class I’ll be taking for school this Spring will help me there.

    Yikes, I’ve gone and written a novel again. This is a serious ailment of mine. Excusey!

  2. I’m definitely a cook and not a baker. I always try to substitute ingredients and in cooking it works really well, but not so much for baking. I hope to be good at both like you with more practice!

  3. I’m a cook. I never measure anything. In fact, when I publish recipes on my blog, I always put the disclaimer that these are approximate measurements. I do like to bake and stick to the measurements on those recipes. That Oreo cake looks incredible, by the way.

  4. Cooking is interesting and fun, but I just love baking more. There’s more “exactness” that goes into it (which is actually very much against my nature), but I think I like the excitement of getting bigger and better with each sweet treat… :)

    Oh and my dad was a math teacher. We had the same conversation every time I’d have him help me with homework… lol

  5. Great question, I don’t care to bake , though there are a couple of really yummy things I make, key words, couple , just 2! The other thing that comes to mind, is that when I begin playing in the kitchen, ready to make a wonderful dish, what do some of us do? Well, what I do is pour a lovely glass of wine. It just goes hand and hand. Can you imagine doing that with baking, NOPE… just “food” for thought! Maggie

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