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I don't bake because?

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I don't bake because:

I read a recipe and what do I see: same ole' thing:

1 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, .... I just can't "do" these ingredients.

I keep purchasing baking books, but all I really bake is some kind of a fruit pie/crisp and a seldom biscotti (once a year?) and artisan bread (lately only NYT no knead) or pizza. DH has lately laid off the flour, so I'm just about out of the baking business.

I know that I am not completely happy with OTC bakery products such as I can find at places like Wegmans or Panera, so I will occasionally purchase a pan e chocolate or a deep- chocolate muffin, while DH will purchase a Napoleon - this is seldom.

Are there any chowhounds that feel similar?

Or what's your reason you don't bake?

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  1. When you say "don't do" those ingredients, do you mean because they are too rich or too high in fat or because you do not like the art of baking?

    I do any and all homemade drop-cookies, brownies, dump cakes (LOL but true) and cupcakes.

    I find "real" baking a lot like woodworking. If you "dabble" it costs you very little money but your creativity is limited. If you go at it full throttle, the time and costs of mixers (aka Kitchen Aid or Hobart), scales, spring form pans (aka specialty tools--an usually good and costly ones) is quite the outlay which means, in poker terms, "you're all in."

    Then your into baking flours , sugars and very costly ingredients.

    So...it's fun, neat and people love it, but I find little "middle ground" unless you go the route of a serious baking fool.

    For me, I love the aspect of measuring perfectly by weight and the science factor of it all, but I'm not a big sweet eater and it tends to be waiste-line killer.

    But bake-on Hounds. :-)

    14 Replies
    1. re: jjjrfoodie

      "When you say "don't do" those ingredients, do you mean because they are too rich or too high in fat or because you do not like the art of baking?"

      It is the amount of these ingredients in one particular batch of cookies, or a cake, or whatever bakery product that when I see the recipe, that I just cannot imagine using that amount of any of these three (also any large amount of cream, sour cream, etc.) ingredients in something that I am making. It just seems too unhealthy for me. I do like sweets, though, and don't think of making something very often.

      The reason I posted is that I do like biscotti (the kind that you dunk in wine) (AND can ruin a tooth!) and was looking through a book "Biscotti" when I realized that there was not one recipe in that book that I was going to ever make :-))

      1. re: Rella

        Butter, cream, sour cream, etc. are not bad for you.

        1. re: sandylc

          I know. I eat all of them. Kerrygold Irish butter; cream from the farm...
          (organic cane sugar, unbleached flour)
          But not all in one ribbon-wrapped morsel :-))

              1. re: Rella

                But if a recipe makes 36 cookies, you are only eating a fraction of those ingredients. Moderation is the key and baking is a magical and comforting experience. Get over your fear woman! ;)

                1. re: ttoommyy

                  Words of wisdom, my friend.

                  But, has anyone EVER eaten one cookie, or even two? :-)) Only at a mall at $1.50 ea.

                  1. re: Rella

                    There's this thing called a Freezer... it does a great job of storing your unused portions of baked goods until it suits you to take them out and eat them. To me, the notion of somebody not wanting to bake is as alien as the notion to you that some of us do it voluntarily.

                    1. re: Kajikit

                      Absolutely agree. And than you always have stuff on hand for unexpected or last minute visitors etc.

                      1. re: Kajikit

                        There is a new thread started called something like "I like to bake because..." for those who do like to bake.

                        1. re: Rella

                          Kajikat was only contributing to the conversation by pointing out that freezing some of the baking output is a solution to one of the issues you raised with regards to why you don't like to bake. Are you suggesting that this thread is only open to people who don't like to bake? Because I thought Chowhound was about conversations about food - not about creating some kind of exclusive "club" on certain threads.

                          1. re: flourgirl

                            But this thread is explicitly for people who DON'T bake, and their reasons why.

                            It has nothing to do with an exclusive club. Of course the thread is open to other folks, but why, if you LIKE to bake, you would post here as opposed to the "I bake because" thread, is a little difficult to understand, I suppose.

                            1. re: flourgirl

                              I think it was just informational, not exclusive. Someone started another thread about this and many people who had posted to this thread prior to it cut and pasted their replies there.

                          2. re: Kajikit

                            My freezer is too full of homemade stocks and seasonal produce which I harvest and preserve to accommodate much else.

                            The siren call of a frozen slice of cake is just about as strong as that of its sister freshly made on the kitchen counter.

              2. I don't bake b/c I'm not crazy about pastries, cakes, cookies, etc. I mean, yeah, I'll eat them if someone brings them along (or bakes them), but I'm not invested/interested enough in that kinda stuff to learn.

                Also, I don't tend to measure stuff at all, which in cooking is much more forgiving than in baking.

                My man is the baker of the family, but it generally doesn't go much beyond pizza.

                1. I don't bake because baking takes exacting measurements and technique and I'm an off the cuff kinda cook. I look at recipes only to get a feel for the overall technique and ingredients and then adlib from there

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: scubadoo97

                    Yup, same here. My husband is the baker in the family...and my daughter learned "Joy of Cooking" brownies from him in like third grade. I've never made them. I'm from the savory side, plus don't have the patience of all the steps and measuring and the multiple bowls.

                  2. Like lingua, I'm not big on sweets. We'll eat them when served by friends or when part of a beer/wine dinner, but rarely have dessert at home. We also don't order dessert when we go out. We both would rather drink our extra calories! I also don't like the mess of flour and can get great bread at local bakeries.

                    1. I don't bake often because there are only two of us and calorie wise it's just too much--do make healthy muffins and then freeze half for later consumption.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: escondido123

                        This - there's only two of us and I can't justify having all those sweet goodies in the house! I also don't like the idea of rocking up at work all the time with *yet more* stuff I've baked - for some reason I don't want to be that person, in addition to why spend all the money baking stuff to give it away? (Other than special occasion baking for gift giving, that is).

                        It's half the reason I love having people around - an excuse to bake!

                        I love baking but I don't aspire to any gourmet fancy-dan delicacies that would involve spending $$$ on obscure ingredients or bits of kit.

                      2. I will try to answer as best as I can.

                        I bake. Sometime once per week. Sometime once per month. I bake for fun. I don't bake for necessity. This is very different from my cooking. I cook because I really eat the foods I cook and I rather eat my cooked food than eating out (averagely speaking). When I cook, I save money, and I have better control of what I eat.

                        I bake for fun. I want to see if I can get close to the professional bakery results. When I do bake, I usually only eat a few pieces of my baked goods and take the rest to work to share with coworkers. Unlike cooking, I don't save money by baking. It is much cheaper for me if I just buy a loaf of bread or a box of cookies from stores.

                        In short, I bake, but I don't have to.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          I bake because:

                          -It satisfies my schizophrenic (half math, half art) brain by being both creative and precise
                          -We like baked goods, but we want them without chemicals and excess sugar
                          -People enjoy the results
                          -It is a (relatively) inexpensive hobby

                        2. I don't bake very much anymore because I have to watch my carbs very conscientiously. I like baking, but I seldom do it.

                          I improvise a lot when I cook, but I've never had trouble baking. If you find a good recipe, you can make it once, and then riff on it whenever you make it again.

                          1. I can bake, if I have to, I just don't love to bake. I much prefer to make a braised meat dish of some sort, or a nice meatloaf or chili.

                            1. I bake because I come from a long line of professional bakers and not baking just wasn't an option. I learned to love it and I learned to carve a professional life from it. My husband and children all grew up with freshly made breads, cupcakes, cookies, cakes, pies...well you get the picture. When dh & I started our family we never bought these things. Even school lunches, always baked by me. Today, our youngest child is in college and he is a fine cookie maker but lacks the time...so he'll bake maybe once a week and I send care packages. But as a family we enjoy baking, what other people bake and naturally have found the professional services of others delightful :) even the baker likes a day off!

                              1. I don't often bake because I have a hard time following recipes exactly as written and I feel baking demands that. I love shortcuts!

                                By recently I've baked as precisely as possible from a couple recipes and had delicious results so now I'm slightly inspired to try more.

                                1. I don't bake often for a few reasons. Firstly, I don't usually follow recipes while I cook, I don't measure, and I just throw things in the pot. That works for me with my daily cooking. I am a good cook. However, baking often requires precision or the recipe will fail. Secondly, I could make an effort to gain more baking experience, but I know that my family members would only eat a small portion of the baked items because they are toddlers and a husband without a sweet tooth. What would happen with the rest? The scenario would either be that it gets stale and thrown away, or if it is a sweet item, I will somehow end up devouring the entire thing by myself. I am a stay-at-home-mom right now, but I know if I were working and took the baked goods to the office, or if I send them to the office with my husband, if it isn't sweet, no one cares much for it, and if it is sweet, it gets eaten but then people blame the baker for ruining their diets. It is a lose-lose situation. I'd rather just purchase the occasional baked goods from a high quality bake shop on special occasions.

                                  1. I don't bake because it's only hubby and me at home and most of the results would likely go to waste - particularly since neither of us are that big on sweets. That said, this time of year, there is nothing better than warm apple pie in which we will indulge. Fortunately Grammy passed down a killer crust recipe. :)

                                    1. No sweet tooth = rarely eat cookies/cakes etc.
                                      No dishwasher and super small sink = hate cleaning batter/doughy messes
                                      Would rather spend my diet calories on substantial food

                                      1. So ... you don't eat ice cream either because it is just frozen cream and sugar basically?

                                        I don't think ingredients are the reason you don't bake, especially given your post about biscotti.

                                        While I can see someone scarfing down a batch of regular cookies, it takes real effort to eat more than two biscotti at one sitting. If there was any cookie made to be stored long time and eaten slowly it is the biscotti.

                                        So I think there are other real reasons you don't bake.

                                        Otherwise you'd be looking for dessert recipes that had less of those ingredients.

                                        There's baked apples or fruit crisps, the latter with less of the trinity. There's rice pudding. Well, there's lots of stuff.

                                        Actually, your title should be I don't bake desserts. I'm assuming you bake chicken and such.

                                        I don't bake much of anything because I don't have the patience, it usually comes out bad, I don't like the clean up, I can buy better and more variety elsewhere and control portions and I just plain old don't enjoy it.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: rworange

                                          Dinner tonight: baked chicken.

                                          A few days ago: baked apple crisp.

                                          Couple of times a year: homemade ice cream in a home compressor ice cream maker and farm cream. Actually I could do this weekly, but I don't.

                                        2. I've never really been a dessert person. I used to enjoy sweets with my morning coffee but as my body has aged sugar in the morning just gets me jittery. My household has always been just one or two and frankly I don't really want the temptation around for that long!

                                          That said, when I'm in the mood and have the time I enjoy baking. If I am entertaining I might bake for dessert (and send a good portion home with the guests). My baking usually has good results albeit nothing fancy.

                                          From the temptation/calorie perspective I do better just purchasing an occasional indulgence from a restaurant or bakery.

                                          1. I'm learning to do a little baking. For a long time, I didn't bake because I don't own baking things (I still don't have an electric mixer). I also don't bake bread very often because I don't want to commit myself to waiting a specific amount of time for the dough to rise.

                                            1. Like a lot of posters here, I don't bake because pastries, cakes, cookies and the like just aren't my favorite foods. I'd rather put my effort into a tasty lunch or trying new recipes for a full dinner. Being a 2 person household is a big part of it as well. And there's a good baker nearby, I can just get a few rolls or a small loaf of bread from there any time I want.

                                              1. OCD people are notoriously good bakers. I lean more toward the ADD people, which can really pay off in wild and crazy cooking impulses. Give me the cooking job and leave the bakers to the organized and OC people, who in my experience crank out perfect baked goods every time. There's a place in the world for both.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: EWSflash

                                                  There's also a group of people, like me for instance, who love to cook AND bake - because they feed different needs and precisely because they are different in their approaches. I lean more towards ADD than OCD - but I am a very accomplished baker and I enjoy it immensely. I just have to be in the mood for it, which isn't all the time. Whereas I am almost always in the mood to cook, even if I'm not up to anything particularly complicated at the moment.

                                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                                    Glad to hear that my ADD won't necessarily get in the way of my baking should I decide to take it on as a learning experience- thanks!

                                                  2. re: EWSflash

                                                    I like this! I'm pretty sure I'm sans any specific disorder, but I am a scatterbrain. I really enjoy the ability to tweak things in any direction I want at any time during the process. And I love the experimental part of cooking.
                                                    With that, I will say I have a lot of admiration for people who bake well. And I'll probably just always need to rely on them for my baked goodies :)

                                                      1. re: alliegator

                                                        I don't bake from May to September because air conditioning is expensive and I hate to sweat while I cook (grilling excepted).

                                                        I'm only now tentatively exploring the world of bread but I think Alligator hit the nail on the head. I think a lot of 'hounds don't bake because the product is out of their control for such an extended period. No tasting its progress. No middle-of-cooking tweaking. No sudden-inspiration ingredient additions. Question: so who is the bigger control freak: the sloppy measurer who throws it all in a skillet and keeps futzing with it till it's done, or the cook with the weighed amounts and scientifically precise ratios who is forced to resign the creation to the oven for so long?

                                                    1. Three reasons I do not bake much: (1) I'm not much of a sweets eater; (2) I do not follow recipes precisely, something that works better with savory concoctions; and (3) so many good bakeries around here that if I want a baguette, a croissant, whatever, it is easy to buy.

                                                      But I have aspirations and enjoy the baking threads.

                                                      1. 1. I have thought about that before, and here is what I came up with. Baking is a lot like engineering. Measurements are exact, if one measurement or calculation is off even by the slimmest of margins, the results can be disastrous. There is little room for creativity (there are exceptions of course) when it comes to the technical aspects of baking, the same as when designing the load-bearing structures of a bridge or sizing servo motors and gearboxes for material handling. There is room for creativity in the final product, such as a new cake or a new bridge design, but the technique is pretty much set in stone.
                                                        In full disclosure, I'm an engineer.
                                                        So you're probably thinking "But you said you're an engineer, and attention to detail is paramount to a good finished product, so you'd probably be good at it". I am a pretty competent cook, and I love to try new flavor combinations and ingredients. I am good enough to know what will generally work together and what wont, so thus far have averted any culinary disasters when it mattered. So I give my left-brain some exercising at home when I cook, and my right-brain for work.
                                                        I also love playing jazz guitar, probably for the same reasons. Jazz's musical structure is essentially chaotic, with no real defined structure to speak of. Again, I'm generalizing. For me, jazz is an escape into a state of mind where it's OK to do whatever you want to musically, something that I can't afford to do at work.
                                                        So in conclusion, I respect the science of baking (as well as the art), I just don't want to do it in my free time. Cooking accommodates creativity a lot better than baking, and that is what I like to do when I relax. You'd be surprised though, being creative at home and by-the-book at work, really helps me develop my engineering skills and solve problems. I have solved more than one problem that had been haunting me at work over my skillet :)

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: bwinter714

                                                          You might enjoy this thread then which isn't really about the cookies

                                                          Incredible Cookies from Lousy Ingredients and Pedestrian Recipe

                                                          It exxplores why the same recipe can be life changing when one person does it, but others can't seem to capture that magic.

                                                          As a computer engineer with an arty side ... tried acting first, then journalism ... but as I said above, don't want to bake.

                                                        2. I don't bake because I see it as extra calories which go straight to tummy fat,
                                                          I'd rather drink wine with the same results.
                                                          Although I do enjoy how pretty baked goods can look, the effort put into it, the smiles they bring when brought to the table. - just don't like to eat them.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: caseygirl

                                                            Hmmm- that just may be my deep-down reason. The calorie bank.

                                                          2. I'll pretty much echo a lot of the other comments here.

                                                            I don't bake much because -

                                                            1. I'm more into savory than sweet. We don't do a lot of dessert in our house except for occasional home-made gelato and a couple pieces of chocolate. Or a good espresso with a shot of grappa. Yum.

                                                            2. Exacting measurements aren't really my thing. Even though I am an engineer by education. I like to experiment and be able to improvise on recipes when cooking, and too often when I do decide to bake, I find I don't have enough of this or that specific kind of sugar/flour/butter/chocolate/etc. And if I try to substitute, it just comes out a mess.

                                                            3. It's expensive! I was visiting my mom this weekend and she's actually interested in learning to bake some more. She found this really interesting looking recipe for a bittersweet chocolate cake with white chocolate/cream cheese icing. When we sat down to budget what the ingredients would cost us (even at the local Walmart), it was going to be over $30 for a single cake! That's a LOT of actual meals instead of just a dessert treat we weren't even sure we would like.

                                                            4. Dietary concerns. Managing my weight has always been a challenge, and I basically trained myself off cakes, brownies, cookies etc except as rare evenings out or holiday treats. I don't want to invite invitation into the house by starting to build up a taste for it again.

                                                            5. It's messy! Every time I do try to bake, it seems like there's just flour all over the kitchen to clean up, tons of bowls, mixing spoons, pans, etc.

                                                            That said, I enjoy making pizza at home and make my own dough from scratch. For the holidays I make my grandmother's yeast rolls, which have taken me years to get even close to "just right", and a number of types of holiday cookies to give away as gifts. But that's about it for me on the baking front.

                                                            1. I do bake because most grocery store items aren't that great and I can make them both better and cheaper. Good bread is easy and doesn't require expensive ingredients - my go-to recipe makes two loaves, one to eat and one for the freezer for later. I do have a husband with a sweet tooth, but leftovers do freeze, and it is nice to have something made to offer guests. I had a friend drop by unexpectedly today and was able to give her CI chocolate chip cookies from the freezer, microwaved briefly.
                                                              For cooking, i do eyeball things a great deal of the time, but also enjoy the precision of baking, especially now that I've invested in a kitchen scale - so much easier to measure ingredients that way.
                                                              Amazing things can be made from simple ingredients, and the magic of an ugly lump of dough turning into a tasty crusty loaf is not to be underestimated.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: lawhound05

                                                                Here is a thread started "I bake because ?" which is

                                                                "180 degrees from Rella's post:"


                                                                which you might enjoy

                                                              2. I don't bake regularly because I don't want temptation around the house. That being said, I do love baking for special occasions and for other people.

                                                                I learned to bake before I ever learned to cook . I was making homemade pie before I ever roasted a chicken. As a young teen, the precision of baking was attactive. ONE cup of this. TWO cups of that. Measure carefully. Bake at THIS temperature. You followed the formula, you got the results.

                                                                Cooking was scary because of the lack of precison. How high is "high heat"? How am I supposed to know if something is reduced by half? I can't stick a toothpick in the middle of a pork chop and know that if it comes out clean, it's done. While I did, and still do, enjoy experimenting with flavors, I sometimes wish for the kind of precise measurments and instructions with cooking that come with baking.