Welcome to Sweet for Certain! My name is Emily, and I am a self-taught baker.
As you can see, I love making macarons the most ♥︎
Coming from a small town, my access to European treats growing up was non-existent. If you wanted bread, you got it from the freezer aisle, or if you wanted a donut, you got it from the gas station. There was nothing else. Unless you made it yourself. Keep in mind this was before Pinterest or really most of the Internet was a thing. Not until just in the last five or so years have we even had a bakery that has stayed open; however, that didn’t mean growing up I knew nothing about baking. My mom always made the best homemade breads, jams, and pies. She taught us five kids about canning, gardening and making everything homemade and what a difference it makes compared to store-bought. I think because of her I’ve always appreciated food, but just in the last few years I’ve really expanded my horizon in baking and pastries.
It started out just as making cupcakes from a box with store-bought frosting. It has developed into making three-day recipes of breads and pastries. Especially in the last couple of years, I’ve felt a need to break baking down and go further than just knowing that our local bakery makes baguettes that mimic what I’ve tasted in Paris. I want to actually know the difference in types of breads and pastries. Get into the why you use a specific flour and see why that can change the texture of a baguette, how to get the perfect flakiness with even layers and thin membranes in a croissant, what difference it makes if you mix ingredients the wrong way or in the wrong order, and I also want to taste the difference by using the best ingredients. I really want to dive deep into baking.
The above croissants? Delicious, yes, but there are a few things wrong with them-they’re definitely not up to French standards. For example, did you know you can tell the difference in croissants by how they’re shaped? I’ll add this in the post when I make croissants! It was something I learned before going to Paris, and obviously before I made these croissants…
…but I’m making mistakes and learning from them because I learn best by seeing and then doing. I like experimenting with new extracts and zests and just figuring out what makes something smell and taste the way it does. I love the feeling of mixing dough by hand, the smell of browning butter, and the first taste of brioche fresh out of the oven. I love our entire home smelling of a freshly baked good.
When I bake, I become absorbed into my own world, a world full of chopping, stirring, tasting, and losing myself in the flavors and pure joy of baking. The kitchen is my safe place, a necessary place where I can create and feel most at home and like myself. It’s extremely therapeutic as any problem in life fades away as soon as I start stirring batter.
This blog will document my journey as I become a better baker. For the last 10 years, I’ve really struggled with what it is that I’m meant to do in life. I have a degree in Office Information. I’ve gone from working as a receptionist and then into finance as an office administrator. After I left finance, a weight was lifted off my shoulders, and I found myself again. Two days after I left, I opened my first actual book about baking, “Confections of a Closet Master Baker“, by Gesine Bullock Prado, and I made her scones. I was changed at that moment for the rest of my life. That was the moment I realized that my dream of working with pastries and macarons needed to happen.
I actually tried starting this journey back in 2017; however, due to self-doubt and, I’ll be honest, laziness and excuses, I stopped. Being in my 30s and comparing myself to the phenomenal bakers and pastry chefs who have trained and done this for years by the time they were my age did me in. I compared myself to the 20-year-olds who are just starting their baking/pastry schooling, comparing the pictures I’ve taken, to what my kitchen looks like. I have no actual experience, and that’s what I focused on for the longest time, feeling that I wouldn’t be good enough. I’m trying to realize though that it shouldn’t matter. If I don’t start this now, I’m going to always have a wondering of what my life would be like. And you know what? This may not bring about any radical changes, but I’ll still know how hard I pushed myself to accomplish it and will have learned a lot along the way. Plus, it’s going to be fun (and delicious)!
So….after having read many blogs and books about baking and testing out recipes, I have decided it is time for me to push myself out of my comfort zone. I am going to bake through recipe books. Cover to cover. Every recipe, no matter how difficult or easy. I would like to go to pastry school but at this time am unable to, so for my first recipe book, I looked for one that would start with the basics. I’m not a newbie to baking though, and I didn’t want to start with things I already knew. I decided to push myself to learn more about pastries. French pastries. As in, Jacquy Pfeiffer’s pastries from his book, “The Art of French Pastry”. I’ve gone through his long list of equipment and specific brands of ingredients and purchased them. I’ve never had a more chocolate filled baking cupboard!
I’m so excited to finally get this started and hope you enjoy following my journey ♥︎