I rashly promise that I will bake all manner of things. I state my intentions on the great forums I participate in. Then life comes along and something happens and I forget that promise, it slips gently from a definite to a ‘later today’ to a ‘maybe tonight’ to an ‘OK, tomorrow then’. From there it proceeds in a straight line to ‘the middle of the week’. Sometimes it skips all those and is lodged next to someone’s birthday, or a visit somewhere.
In the meantime the cook books pile up in the kitchen, the print-outs from my friends’ blogs, the writers I love and read in the daily papers whose recipes I carefully save. My wishful intentions stacked like planes waiting to get into Heathrow.
Sometimes it’s a miracle that anything gets baked at all. And seems like a dream. Did I really make panettone last year? Roll out baguettes and lift their fragile little bodies from couche to peel? Surely that wasn’t me who made an apricot kugelhopf? The great advantage of being a professional baker must be that you really get to practise and hone your craft; your hands eventually being able to read the dough and understand by feel and aroma just what is going on; whether to leave the dough a little longer to rest, to move it somewhere warmer or cooler, how to flick flour in the lightest of feathery sprays over the work surface…
There are no short cuts, reading and looking and observing will get you so far, but practice is all. It took me 22 hours of bashing away at a keyboard in an echoey room many years ago to be able to type without looking at the keyboard. I wonder how many hours it takes to make a baker?