Thoughts of an Absurd souffle

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{I wandered about until I realized I was indeed, lost.

Is it the certainty of knowing the outcome of a recipe that puts it in favour over the choice of cooking the unknown? A trait amid mothers, grandmothers and the one or two men in the family who know how to cook without a recipe is that they always seem to have all the answers. I used to go berserk thinking about the uncertainty of the future before being reminded that I barely knew what the present day had in store for me. A death in the family definitely widened the realm of the unpredictable. However it was just that sudden shock that calmed the storm in my head. Standing still in fear of the unpredictable was nothing short of depriving myself of all that I could achieve. Take it as missing an opportunity to cook a good dish whilst surrounded with good ingredients. It’s better to have a baked souffle than have non, right?

I don’t know why I’m thinking about soufflés but my thoughts are all poofy now. The first time I baked a soufflé, my mind was scrolling past scenarios in movies and comedy shows where even a loud sound resulted in a sunken flat soufflé. Reality proved that those were well over exaggerated. Maybe they were using a different, more unstable recipe because as I continued not weighing the ingredients and trusting my own hand without the slightest doubt, I baked a well risen souffle. Now this was my first time baking a soufflé, so I accepted the credit going to ‘beginners luck‘. I didn’t weigh the ingredients since I was well accustomed with the majority of it. Egg whites happen to be one of my favourite ingredients to work with; its fickleness demands my admiration. I went about baking it keeping in mind the colleagues that were going to eat it. Their eyes scathing over me like I had any idea about what I was doing.

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I was seriously lost the other day.

I’ve always been evasive of soufflés since their exaggerated vulnerability seemed to be pretentious. However making one with a firm hand rather than the commonly associated delicate touch added much more soul to each bite. As such, the first lesson I took was one I always find myself learning one too many times, which is to not always go with the common word. I was delighted to learn that most of what I’ve heard and read about soufflés is nothing but myth. It’s a task to get to know someone new myself rather than what others say, however the opinions of close friends tend to weigh in a bit. One of my best friends is that person everybody complains about, and much of what they say can be justified, but there happens to be a certain bond wherein I still back him up; little less than I lecture him. It’s better to form your own opinion, not that the next person’s opinion is wrong; it might be the same or the complete opposite; but it spawns an awareness to understand much more than what you would have if you just went with the flow.

I wrote a post on weighing principles, which speaks largely on my habit of avoiding weights and measures when it comes to baking. It’s true for the most part. I’ve grown up with my mum and sisters baking and cooking whilst I read through their cookbooks since fairy tales were too short. It’s an inherent feeling of judgement as well as memory that guides me whilst I work. I don’t recommend it for first timers no matter how much beginners luck they might be carrying, cause it’s just my way of baking. Another reason being that I have these two really old weighing scales that require about six batteries each, and are timeless antics. I bring them out only when the work is serious.

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Clara Oswald, Dr Who.

Amused myself when I came across the episode of Doctor Who whilst writing a post on souffle’s of all things. What was I talking about? Right, the steps about not weighing my ingredients is my way of baking for friends and family, dishes that I’ve prepared numerous times and know my way around. Above all when I’m baking for my own comfort; especially cakes, breads and cookies (anything simple, which depends on what you consider simple); I don’t see the need for one. Alright the truth is that I let the spirits guide me. *Nonsense* In short, know your limits and your environment. On my second round of whipping up another batch of souffle, I noted down weights of each ingredients and as with each batch of two that followed, I derived a stable recipe. One I still use. Don’t delude yourself over a skill that’s barely practiced. It might just fail you.

I had this habit of watching the cakes and breads rise in the oven taking a life of their own when I was young. My mum would tell me to stop staring at it, and it wasn’t until I started baking myself that I understood the nagging tick of someone staring at what’s baking in the oven more than what’s required. A peek is fine, but it’s pervasive to have someone look at your baked good in the oven for an unusually long time. What’s in the oven deserves some privacy. I’m usually setting up the next task (cooling wracks, frostings, jams) else to be more honest, browsing the net. I check in on regular intervals but not so much that it’s overwhelming. So let yourself go. Stay grounded in the realm of the unpredictable.

Now the soufflé I baked was the outcome of a fortunate mass of meringue that was left over. I could baked a pavlova or even Amaretti, but I decided to go with a souffle on pure whim. My preconceived notion was that it was nothing special and I had to eat my words later on. Not everything pursued on a whim turns out great, but it’s trial and error. All about getting a fitting recipe. My recipe might differ a bit or on a whole from my friends, but it’s something I’m comfortably happy with. It happens quite often where fear of not knowing what to do results in someone imitating another person’s work and calling it their own. You don’t have to imitate another persons life expecting to reach the same goals they did, since it’ll result into something so different that you aren’t happy with it. Take inspiration and learn, adapt your goals according to your resources; take time to write down your own tinkered recipe. It’s much more gratifying.

Our inability to perceive what life has in store for us is scary, as long as we want it to be. The most difficult recipe is that for our own life, and we only have one shot at it. Thankfully we can all rely on beginners luck.

P.S. – I’m all out of soufflé and I think I’m just hungry. 

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