the similarity between a baker and a cook

I haven’t had a slice of brownie worthy of being called a chocoholic’s dream for quite some time now. I used to be the first to look through the dessert menu, and easily picked out the most classic brownie they offered. But ever since I found the one, I always steered away from those ‘nice-but-not-fudgey-enough’ or ‘I-believe-this-is-cake-not-brownie’ type of brownies in restaurants, simply because I could have my dessert in the comforts of my own room.

The problem with having found and embraced [ever so tightly, if I may add] a personal favourite brownie recipe is that the search for other brownie recipes had since inadvertently come to a stop. This doesn’t apply, however, to any other bake I’ve made.

I don’t know if it is the same for everyone, but I know that I got this trait from my mother.

Each time she gives the approving nod or second helping to any of my bakes, she would immediately say between mouthfuls, “Stick to this the next time, you hear?”. And we’d both break out in knowing chuckles.

My mother is a wonderful cook, and I know that by the very first week of moving out, I’d probably miss her cooking most. And as much as I try to learn cooking from her, jotting down the amount of ingredients and specification of steps are as tricky as a blind dog with a cold, sniffing his way down a hill. She teaches me to develop my own palate, so that I’ll never be restricted to recipes, and I’ll understand that ‘to taste’ means I can never literally measure out the amount of salt she tosses into the kuah celok, nor the amount of sugar she places into her egg sambal.

Despite our differences in recipe adherance, we share the same itch for trying out new bakes/dishes as well as variations of a favourite. Similar to how a request for another batch of peanut butter cookies would see me replying “Errr, which one was that?”, the mother would be smiling sheepishly each time I go, “Is this the same chicken gravy as the other week? The nice one?”.

And so, it is not surprising that when I baked these, many expected them to be the same chocolate chip blondies I made some time back, but my mother knew better.

The difference? I had one piece while it was still warm, and thought I definitely preferred the previous one; this was more cakey. A few hours later, I couldn’t stop chewing away. These were definitely soft and chewy, but unlike the previous blondie which I found to be a cross between a fudgey brownie and a chewy cookie, this felt like it was a cross between a coffee cake and a fudgey brownie. Does that make any sense?

Brown Sugar Brownies with Chocolate Chunks
(adapted from here)

2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
2 2/3 cups plain flour
3 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chunks (I love chopping dark couverture chocolate coarsely, but you can use chocolate chips if you prefer)

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Grease a 13×9 inch baking pan or line the pan with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together oil and brown sugar. Then add the eggs one at a time and beat until smooth.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients and then add them to the brown sugar mixture. Mix well.
  5. Stir in chocolate chunks.
  6. Spread batter into prepared baking pan. Batter will be thick!
  7. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
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26 thoughts on “the similarity between a baker and a cook

  1. The Mister

    Hehe… I find it cute that your mummy experiments in the kitchen with avant garde recipes that don’t have names yet!

    But her ‘nasi special’ RAWKS!!!! :D

    Ooooh oooh, and also that “as yet untitled” ajyem dish I ate the last time I came over! :P

    Reply
  2. ovenhaven Post author

    Okay, I have no idea which nasi special you’re talking about, along with the ajyem dish! And I think if I were to tell her as well, she’d have no clue :P Too many ‘nasi special’s and unnamed dishes in this household (of course, I’m far from complaining *yumyum*!). Thanks on behalf of my mummy, anyways :D

    Reply
  3. Maya

    My mom says the same thing too but hers sound like this…”lain kali, buat aje gini…jgn keletar2 nak tukar” :p I love to experiment. Alhamdulillah, most of E times things do work out…but when it doesnt…I blame it on E new recipe! Tht’s why my mom like to say me keletar2 tukar recipe! :p

    Reply
  4. ovenhaven Post author

    Arundathi: Thanks! You should give it a try :)

    Maya: I like to blame it on the new recipe too if things don’t turn out :P But you just can’t fight the urge of trying something new, right? Like they say, belum cuba belum tau :P

    Eleonora: Awww, you’re too kind. Glad you’ve enjoyed my blog! Thanks for dropping by, dearie :)

    Helene: You should! And drop a dollop of vanilla ice-cream for the guaranteed pleasure ;)

    wine blog: Thanks for dropping by :) Hope you’ll like them!

    Reply
  5. thecoffeesnob

    Haha your mum’s too cute! Mine’s the exact opposite. She likes me to stick to recipes i’ve tried and have her seal of approval but i can never resist playing around with the recipes or trying another one just because. It sure doesn’t stop her from taking at least one bite out of everything i make though :)

    Reply
  6. grace

    when i find a recipe for something i deem to be the best, it takes me a good while to branch out and test a new one. often, though, my tastes change, and i end up finding another favorite. :)

    Reply
  7. ovenhaven Post author

    thecoffeesnob: Sweetie, with all the things you come up with, I’m not surprised your mom tries them all, despite wishing you’d stick to favourite ones :P

    grace: I never quite thought of it that way. Perhaps you’re right, the times that I do branch out would probably come from a change in taste. Perhaps I should give another brownie recipe a try :P

    Ashley: I don’t see why you should :P

    Reply
  8. didally

    I make the same things again and again, provided they are nice to my tastebuds of course. I’ve only seen the usual choc brownie and not this light coloured kind. Very unique.

    Reply
  9. ovenhaven Post author

    jean: Thanks, babe :)

    BitterSweet: I think it comes with blogging as well; the need to try out new recipes each time. I always find that if I were to bake something which I already have before, I won’t blog about it.

    didally: Maybe it’s a sense of re-assurance for me. Even when I’ve found something nice, I’ll always try a new recipe, perhaps just to affirm that the previous recipe I’ve had in hand is still the best :P I think these brown sugar brownies are actually just another name for blondies. Hehe.

    Reply
  10. Deeba

    How sweet your Mom is! I share the itch…& I LOVE this blondie. I have a few precious morseld of dark ghirardeli chips stored for posterity! I think the time has come to use them…yum!!

    Reply
  11. is

    i think every cook, especially mothers have their own ways and bags of tricks in the kitchen. i was quite bad at cooking ‘ikut rasa’..was especially bad with salt..coz i prefer less, but i find most people prefer a bit more..hehe
    i think baking is more challenging tho, eventho in some sense it is less fuzzy like cooking..coz you need to be precise. but it is more difficult for me..coz i find when things go wrong while baking, the goods r less salvagable..hehe

    Reply
  12. pleth

    oh-man oh. the recipe sounds good. gonna give this a try soon. i have been so lazy to even lift a pan lately. ha ha.

    and ur comment was so funny. me too you know. eversince my first pregnancy, that thing has been the most comfortable and airy thing ever! haha i am just as guilty and my other half actually hates it on me! *lol* unsightly according to him. :))

    Reply
  13. ovenhaven Post author

    is: Well at least yours was in the past tense, I’m still bad at that ‘ikut rasa’ thing. I’m always scared of putting alot of salt, so in the end, they’d always turn bland, and the one time I put more, my mom said the dish didn’t need any (it already had beef stock), so it turned out a tad too salty :P

    pleth: Haha, I can imagine why it’d look ‘unsightly’; those things macam quite ‘obit’ gitu kan! But super comfy, definitely :P And with the luxurious treats you had during your recent trip, I can totally understand why you’re out of touch with the kitchen!

    Reply
  14. Pingback: BLONDIES OVER BROWNIES? YES! GIVE THESE A CHANCE!! | Travelling Secrets

  15. Pingback: Bakeaholic » Blog Archive » Ebony & Ivory Marbled Brownies

  16. mahek

    GREAT GREAT RECIPE…
    YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS ARE REALLY BREATHTAKING…
    ONE FEELS LIKE PUTTING A HAND OUT AND JUST EATING OUT OF YOUR PLATE…
    WONDERFUL THIS IS A SURE TRY RECIPE AS THE INGREDIENTS ARE MOSTLY AVAILABLE , I MIGHT NOT BE USING BROWN SUGAR AND CHOCO CHUNKS IS IT OK AS THESE ARE NOT EASILY AVAILABLE IN INDIA

    Reply
  17. ovenhaven Post author

    Thank you :) You could substitute the brown sugar with white sugar, but there will definitely be a difference in the texture; it will be less chewy. If you can find molasses over there, you can add the same amount of white sugar, but add 3 tbsp of molasses. Hope that helps!

    Reply

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