Welcome! This is my very first blog post and I would like to introduce myself and my blog to you.
My name is Linda Amendt and I am an avid, lifelong baker, cookbook author and, now, a food blogger. Home canning is another food passion, as was competing in, and now judging, state and county fairs. During my competitive years, I earned over 900 awards, including over 600 first place and special awards for excellence, for my baked goods and home canning entries.
My newest cookbook, 400 Sensational Cookies, has earned nine cookbooks awards since it was released a year ago, including the Cordon d’ Or – Gold Ribbon Culinary Academy International Culinary Academy Award for Best Baking Book, the Mom’s Choice Awards Gold Medal Award for Cooking, Food & Wine Books, the International Book Award for Best Baking/Bread Cookbook and the London Book Award for Best Cookbook. Writing 400 Sensational Cookies was a several-year process and a labor of love.
Here is the plan for what I intend to talk about on this blog, although I reserve the right to expand the topic list and even toss in an occasional off-topic piece. Whether you are an experienced baker or baking your very first batch of cookies, there will be recipes and information here for all of you. My goal is to share my knowledge and experience and help you all become better bakers. There is always something new to learn.
My recipes will cover all aspects of baking – cakes, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, bars and squares, pies, tarts, quick breads, muffins, biscuits and scones, sweet rolls, yeast breads and even some breakfast bakes. I promise that recipes will be delicious and the directions clear and complete. Many of them are blue ribbon winners. I am still learning how to use my new camera and working on my food photography skills, but I will try to post a photo with each recipe.
Wonderful baked goods start with the ingredients. Great bakers have learned how ingredients work together to produce tender, light, flavorful cakes, cookies, pies and breads. A number of my posts will fall under headings like Ingredients 101 and The Role of Ingredients in Baking. Some topics will be divided up so that we can focus on them in more detail.
We will also take a close look at the available types of baking pans, tools and equipment – what works well and what doesn’t. Using the proper equipment and tools really does make a difference. Discussions will cover cake pans, pie pans and cookie sheets and more, what the differences are between the various types and why some work better than others to achieve specific textures.
Techniques and Tips
As we go down the road, I will be creating a variety of step-by-step tutorials for different baked goods. These will be illustrated with photographs to help explain the different techniques used in baking. I will also share my tips for creating textures and layers of flavors and getting the most out of every recipe. We will talk about preparation and measuring, mixing and temperature; all the important things that are part of baking and affect the results.
The combination and proportion of ingredients and the equipment and techniques used determine the success of a recipe. I will explain not only the why, but also the how behind the science and the art of baking. Don’t worry, this won’t be like science class in school. I will help to demystify the secrets of baking so you will gain an understanding of why a cake did not rise or a pie crust was tough. With knowledge comes power, and better baked goods!
Baking Contests and Fairs
Having started out as a home baker and fair competitor, I have a soft spot for state and county fairs and baking competitions, both big and small. They are great fun and there is nothing like the feeling of winning that first blue ribbon. For those of you with a touch of a competitive streak, I encourage you to enter. Fair competitions and baking contests are filled with first-time entrants who win. As we get closer to spring, I will share with you tips for understanding how fair competitions work and how to improve your chances of winning. As a fair judge and the winner of over 900 awards, I know what it takes to win and I will share that knowledge with you.
Off and Running
Now you know the plan. It was my intention to have everything in place before launching this blog, but circumstances arose that required me to launch it early. So I hope you will be patient with me in the coming weeks as I finish getting everything set up here, work out the kinks and start adding posts. This is a brand new and exciting adventure for me and I hope you will join me on the journey. Let’s get to know each other and have some fun baking!