What they don’t tell you when you take your first steps in baking?

On my way back from an awesome weekend trip near the Sierras, I couldn’t help getting bugged, what with the Wild Wild West more like Wide Wide West on the road, zoned out and zoomed in on a melting chocolate muffin pack near the dashboard. It was blazing hot outside.. I mean like the gust of hot air you feel every time you open your oven – HOT.  Reaching a 104 F with total ease, the drive back was more like a sore itch you want to get rid of. Anyway back to my muffin, as I peered at it so hard like I was going to xray the muffin with my eyes alone, I wondered why I had never ventured into baking. Full-fledged baking. Not the baking chips or making pizzas on stone baking. But the whole array of cakes and cookies and muffin… the solar system of magical goodies made from self-rising flour. This thought provoked me to use some of the trays on coming back home.

As always with any beginner, I zeroed in on making simple chocolate chip cookies … Nothing fancy. Basic choco chip cookies that I’m sure a lot of you have never gotten wrong. The first time I made them they turned out too flat and I wasn’t in exactly a baking mood/mode.. It was more like get rid of the last bit of flour in the house mode. My attempts at baking have never really gone beyond pathetic before. I have always baked good cakes but never delved too much into the yummier creations from flour like shortbreads or cupcakes or cookies.So this idea of baking choco chip cookies seemed quite enticing and extremely simple to make. That’s when I remembered this dialogue from the not-so-cool-anymore TV show “Friends” where Phoebe quotes the recipe for the delicious choco chip cookies was passed down to her by her mother who got it from her great grand aunt Nestle Tollhouse (pronouned Toulouse).

I looked at the Nestle site for a simple recipe on these cookies and off I went dashing to my kitchen counter to bake these goodies at just the thought of the smell of sweet baked flour wafting through the air and the first crumbly crunchy bite of a cookie with a sip of tea. What yumminess! I got the dough ready, refrigerated it for a bit before dunking them as small round bald balls into the oven preheat at exactly 375 F as given in their website. They were ready in 12 mins. Looked perfect. And here I was thinking — moment of achievement (more really like a Nobel Prize award with artificially whitened teeth boasting a million dollar smile and a Miss World wave in the air).

Ready to taste the sweetness of success, I imagined everything I did before making these cookies — the sweet smell of baking flour in the air and crumbly feel of the cookie in your mouth and took the first bite. What a bitch! The use of baking soda in my dough screwed up my cookie. It tasted bitter. More like a fresh cookie that went bad in the end. Thank God for those kitchen towels. I spat out every bit of what I had. The moment of disaster.

On googling, very interesting to note that baking soda is a big NO for baker mums while most recipes on the internet mention the use of a tsp of baking soda. No. Never. Never again. My cookies came out looking like I was ready to set up shop and in reality, tastes like chocolate barf. Extremely gross. If you are a beginner, get this tip from a fellow beginner, please please avoid using baking soda. If you absolutely must, go ahead and throw in a teeny tiny pinch and nothing more. Trust me, the pinch can screw up your yummy baked goods a long way!



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