My Make Me a Baker Diary
Science in the kitchen and learning to adapt and write recipes: reflections from Modules 5 & 6
My Make Me a Baker Diary
by Hannah Scott
I’d definitely consider myself to be more of a freestyle cook rather than a precise baker and I’m often substituting ingredients in recipes to suit what I have in the cupboard or what’s in season. The success of doing so has varied, probably because I’ve not always understood what will actually happen when I make that change – until now that is. This month’s module was all about the science behind baking, giving me, and my fellow students greater confidence in adapting recipes and in developing our own.
Changing just one ingredient in a recipe can make a huge difference to the consistency, texture, look and the taste, which was evident from our in-class baking science experiment where we cooked up 6 batches of cookies substituting a different ingredient each time. Even though we used the same recipe and method, just by changing one ingredient each batch was quite different.
Cookie production line in the Bake Club kitchen.
For our baking homework we were to adapt a recipe to suit our personal preferences. I chose a family favourite celebration cake. The original recipe was shared with my Mum at a craft gathering many years ago, and over the years it’s been adapted many times and has been shared at numerous family get-togethers and celebrations.
I’d like to share with you my personal favourite version of this Mexican Wedding Cake and how I adapted it. To start with, since the original recipe simply listed the ingredients with a sentence to explain the method (mix and bake), I thought I’d also put what we learned in session 3 (how to read and write recipes) into practice so there will be no guessing in your kitchen!
This sturdy but moist cake is a real crowd pleaser.
Changes I made to the original recipe:
- The original recipe uses plain flour but I like the wholesome sturdiness of the wholemeal flour.
- The original recipe uses raw sugar but I like the more intensely caramel taste of brown sugar.
- I’ve reduced the sugar content in my version as the original recipe calls for almost double the amount. With the crushed pineapple and its juice I think it’s sweet enough.
If you too would like to change up this recipe, here are some ideas you might like to try:
- For a simple change you can substitute the type of nuts (just keep the weight quantity the same, unless you’d prefer yours a little more nutty). I’ve tried macadamias and walnuts, but slivered almonds remain my favourite for a more subtle crunch. Each nut will give the cake a slightly different texture and taste.
- You could try changing the type of sugar to suit your preference. A granulated sugar works well, but my personal favourite is brown sugar.
- As I’ve done with this recipe, you could also try swapping the type of gluten-containing flour you use (just make sure it’s a plain flour otherwise you’ll also need to consider changing the bicarbonate of soda which acts as a leavening agent).
Until next month! X
Hannah Scott (aka @thefoodstoryteller) won a scholarship to BakeClub's Make Me a Baker program thanks to SBS Food. Her rustic approach to baking is partly to thank for winning her the top spot in the competition. Stay tuned to Instagram and the blog to follow her Make Me a Baker journey over the next 6 months! In the meantime, click here to get to know a little more about her.
To find out more about how you can be part of a future Make Me a Baker program, click here.