That all quantities of ingredients used must be measured with agonising precision otherwise the whole thing will be (literally) a flop.
As I’ve experimented over the years, I’ve not only found this myth to be untrue but came to the realisation that it is a relatively new myth.
Consider with me that some of the best recipes come from generations past; and yet when referred to, one finds that these recipes are somewhat imprecise. They use phrases such as “a pinch of salt”, “a smidgen of flour” and “a drop of vanilla essence”. A new baker of my generation would be pulling their hair out at such ambiguous terms. Doesn’t it strike you as rather funny that it is only in this digital age that we’ve become such anal bakers?
This is to bring a word of comfort to you and dispel the aforementioned myth. I have found that the most important thing when it comes to baking is, in fact, the consistency of the mix.
There are several consistencies you need to become familiar with. The main three are the cakes, the cookies and the ‘sticky stuff’ like puddings and brownies. Within each category, you need to become familiar with how certain ingredients or procedures can affect the final mix. For example, creaming butter and sugar using a hand mixer will produce a drier and stiffer cake mix than creaming it by hand. They both still turn out fine and, in fact, it will probably not do for the former mix to be watered down to the latter consistency.
If you are a new baker, you should follow recipes as much as possible so you can familiarise yourself with the texture/consistency. This will also help you gauge in the future which ingredients are necessary for certain mixes as well as the relative quantities required. Once you are comfortable with baking, you will find that there is actually quite a large margin of error allowed before disaster strikes.
If you would like me to expound further on this topic, please do leave a comment or email and I will be most happy to put a more detailed post up.
If you are a more advanced baker, trust yourself and test out the ‘Consistency Theory’ using leftover buttercream. In my kitchen, they become all manners of delicious one-of-a-kind cookies (because they can’t be reproduced for lack of records).
One last word of advice is this: It is always better to underuse the sugar rather than overuse it because it is easier to ice/frost your goods to make it sweeter, than to compensate for a hyperactively sweet dessert.
Consistency matters. You heard it here first. 😉
– ant –