There was a time that I was terrified of making anything with flour. Breads, cookies, muffins, even pancakes were a disaster. I wasn't above buying those biscuits in the cardboard tube that virtually explode when you crack them on the counter and had some mysterious white bits that I'm sure raised my cholesterol a few points.
With the guidance of Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything I had the courage to keep trying and somehow I think I've gotten the hang of basic baking from scratch*. I can whip up biscuits or pizza dough on a weeknight and we've been enjoying this delicious no-knead bread multiple times a week. Of course feeling comfortable with flour also means eating a lot of butter. I mean, how can you make delicious cookies and pies without it? When I first got the hang of baking we ate way beyond the scope of what any human should consume in butter, flour and chocolate chips. Suffice it to say I've calmed down a bit in terms of quantity, but the quality (in my opinion) is still quite good. We also started buying local flour in bulk (50#) from the co-op, which has saved us some money and will keep us in gluten heaven for a while.
Here are some of my favorite baked goods that are in a regular rotation:
Whole Wheat Apple Muffins and Grapefruit-Yogurt Cake from Smitten Kitchen (A grapefruit cake is cooling on the counter right now...)
Zucchini-Pecan Flaxseed Bread
Whole Wheat Muffins with roasted pumpkin
Mocha Pudding Cake, served with vanilla ice cream, of course!
Pizza dough, biscuits, cornbread, and classic chocolate chip cookies from How to Cook Everything
At this point baking from scratch is just how I do things and, honestly, making biscuits without the cardboard tube takes less effort. I don't have to go to the refrigerated section or shorten my life from the stress of the exploding tube. An added bonus is that I don't have to worry about mysterious ingredients, like those white things. Once I got the hang of things like kneading, measuring and cutting in butter, baking wasn't so daunting. It also helped that the results were so delicious!
I'm off to slice some cake. :)
*Note: I still struggle with kneaded-dough recipes due to our elevation. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.