Confession No. 2: I Can't Bake


As a chef, I am expected to have universal cooking skills. I should be able to cook steaks, fish, rice, desserts, etc. Many of those things I can cook and I can cook them well. But I have a confession to make: I am a horrible baker.

This comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me very well. I have always been a failure as a baker. In culinary school, I failed the subject. At one time I was banned by my own staff from baking bread. But it's not my fault. Baking is a foreign language to me. I came to cooking from the rough-and-tumble world of line cooking and am modeled differently than a person who comes from the world of baked goods.

I dont heart these things...
  • I don't heart these things...

As a line cook, I might have a recipe for something, but I am never exact on quantities. I learned to “feel” the right amount of seasoning, not measure it. If the recipe calls for two tablespoons of butter in the risotto, I can probably get away with three or one and still have a good product. I know how much to use by the look and the taste, not by following a recipe.

In baking, however, you can not feel your way through the process nearly as easily. If a cake calls for two tablespoons of baking powder than you sure as heck better add exactly two because any more will cause the cake to blow up, any less and it won't rise.

I have failed on Betty Crocker cookies, corn bread, even boxed muffins. Don’t even ask me to try yeast breads. The whole “exactness” of baking is my problem. I don’t know that I own a set of measuring spoons; even if I did I am not sure that I would use them. Cooking is a process of feeling for me, not following a recipe.

This chef is a horrible baker.

Randy King is the Executive Chef at Sysco Food Services of Idaho. He has served as the Executive Chef at several locations in Boise including Richard’s in Hyde Park, Crane Creek Country Club and the Doubletree Riverside Hotel. Randy is a member of the American Culinary Federation and has been awarded the elite status of Certified Executive Chef. He can typically be found behind a stove making a mess…and something delicious to eat.