Time To 'Bake' Your Mark In The Kitchen

If you had told people fifteen or so years ago how popular baking would be now, they would have thought you were trolling them. Along with knitting and dressmaking, it just seemed like a grandma thing to do. Maybe it has something to do with the financial crisis, and reluctance to spend so much buying from stores. Whatever the case, all three of the above have become big in recent years.

It's baking, in particular, that has grabbed the most attention, and it's easy to see why. The process, if done right, can be very soothing and relaxing and the results - even if messed up - are usually delicious.

Of course, it can be disheartening to look at pictures of the "finished product" in a book and compare them to your efforts. But if you're not an expert in the kitchen, then it makes sense to start small and work up.

Easing Yourself In Gently: Crepes

Well, okay. They aren't technically "baking", to be fair. But they use most of the same ingredients and prep, up to the point where they are cooked. And they are an excellent entry point into the world of baked goods.

All you need is a bowl, some flour, milk, eggs, salt and melted butter. Add some flavor to your taste (vanilla essence is an ideal addition), and fry in a lightly greased non-stick pan. The key is not to have the pan too hot, as this will cook the batter before you can spread it throughout the pan. A low to medium heat will be better.

Stepping It Up A Little: Cake Pops

If you're feeling a little braver around your kitchen, the next step should be these little wonders. You'll find them featured on among other spots, and they're perfect for parties. A cross between lollipop and cake, they don't need to be sliced and put on plates to serve. You'll need to get the hang of baking a sponge cake, but believe me; it's really not difficult.

Once You Have It Nailed: Profiteroles

When you're confident that you have cakes in the bag, it's time to really stretch yourself. Think you can manage pastry? It is a step up in terms of difficulty, but once you have it figured out it is so versatile.

There is a reason profiteroles are considered something of a luxury. The light choux pastry, though tricky to make, complements perfectly the filling you place inside. This will usually be whipped cream, but you can use custard or creme patissiere ( for a twist on the classic. Top them off with melted chocolate, and you have a dessert that will be top of anyone's list to have again and again - diet allowing!

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