One of my earliest baking memories is being somewhere around 6 years old and misreading a recipe, adding 1/2 cup of salt into a batch of peanut butter cookies. They were unsalvageable, but one thousand Mom points to mine for trying. Then I had an Easy Bake Oven and would try to pawn off my wares onto my parents’ unsuspecting friends for a penny. Then I started to get older and kind of just…stopped. Through college I would occasionally make cookies to feed my posse of friends, but I never really cared one way or the other about baking.
Fast forward to a few years ago, 2013. I was living in Miami with a very awesome French roommate, Camille, paying too much rent for a crappy apartment close to a job that made me unhappy on a daily basis. Depressing, right? I needed a hobby that wasn’t too expensive and would allow me to relax a little in my apartment, so I Googled “best chocolate chip cookies” and decided on a whim to start baking. I had a single mixing bowl, a whisk, a wooden spoon and some mismatched measuring cups and spoons, but I tried it out anyway. It turns out they were really really good, but come on – who can’t make a basic cookie? I was making batch after batch of chocolate chip cookies (and thereby eating all of said cookies, whoops) when Camille and I decided for the love of God, we had to stop eating everything I made. So I started bringing the extras over to my office with me in the mornings. Then it turned out other people liked what I was doing, too – not just my roommate and a select handful of friends who knew what I was up to and had gotten to try it.
Pretty soon I branched out to cupcakes, and as you can see from the picture my first attempts at baking looked a little…sad. No matter, I brought them to work anyway – and people REALLY liked those. From there, I started taking requests – Red Velvet for one coworker, Reese’s Cups for another – and started to realize that I had something going for me. I could bake, and do it pretty damn well. I started to get better and better, and for my birthday that same year my boyfriend (now fiancé…hold your applause, you’re far too kind) got me a used KitchenAid off Craigslist. As soon as I got that, I started going crazy.
I bought every baking cookbook I could find, including the America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking book, and decided to teach myself. Not everything worked well – RIP first attempt at lemon bars, too soon for this world – but pretty soon I started getting fancier and fancier until I got to the point where if I wanted something, I would make it. Mini Croquembouche for a client? Done! Challah so we can have French Toast the next morning? You got it. At this point, I’m willing to try anything and everything! There will be some along the way that fail – I’ve been putting off attempting macarons for about 6 months now – but I’m happy to have you along for the ride.