I recently saw something similar online, along the lines of ’10 things to bake before you die’. But when I viewed their list I was largely disappointed because firstly I had baked everything on the list (I will be checking out cemetery plots later) and secondly not much on the list actually struck me as particularly challenging.
So I decided to make my own list, and here it is! I left off all the boring things that most people have baked at some point in their lives. Strictly speaking not all of them are baking but hey, it is my list, so my rules.
1. Buttery Brioche
This actually made it to the top of the list, because not only is it a challenging bake, it is SO delicious fresh, that bought brioche is never as good as eating it straight out of the oven.
2. Sourdough or Ciabatta – Something about the idea of growing a starter culture (known as a biga) for days (or in the olden days for years) kind of appeals.
3. Madeleines – the first time I heard about these was in The Transporter, not sure if it is just the appeal of making fresh baked goods for Jason Statham though.
4. Nougat – My own personal nemesis! I have made it many, many times, and still can’t emulate my favourite brands. Sally, what is the secret?
5. Bread – Everyone should make a good bread once in their lives.
6. A really complex cake – Think Masterchef here...something with many layers, involving at least 30 ingredients and about as many processes.
7. Cupcakes for kids with cancer – most people can manage a simple cupcake, but everyone should bake a batch for charity at least once in their lives!
8. A wedding cake – I first developed a fascination with wedding cakes after reading Like Water for Chocolate (by Laura Esquival). As a teenager the idea that love and sadness could be baked into a cake struck me as being terribly romantic. I guess it stuck because it ended up being my profession. This one is not for the faint-hearted though! Wedding cakes bring with them Bridezillas.
9. Profiteroles or Eclairs – and if you are feeling brave why not combine with number 8 and make a croquembouche!
10. Tarte Tatin – Making puff pastry from scratch is one of the more challenging things a person can do in the kitchen, and what could be a more elegant way of using your pastry?
11. Croissants – The world is filled with bad croissants. Doughy, bready, made with horrible cheap margerine coating your teeth in waxy residue. The only way to ensure true all-butter flakiness is to bake your own.
12. Macarons – these little devils have been challenge even the most experienced bakers, making a perfect macaron is a true baking badge of honour.
13. Baked Alaska – Its frozen and hot, at the same time!
14. Deep fried Mars bars – I have heard that these are a staple in Scotland, and although I reckon it is probably a heart attack waiting to happen, I have got to taste this madness at least once in my life.
15. Crêpe Suzette – a pancake is, well, just a pancake. But the orange-y, sauce-y, butter-y, flambé -y magic of a crepe suzette cannot be compared to any old pancake (also I am trying to get tableside food preparation to come back into fashion)
16. Soufflé – sweet, savoury, hot or cold, pretty much any which way!
17. Mille Feuille – actually it is just on my bucket list to figure out how to pronounce it.
18. A family recipe – Find a beloved family recipe from your childhood and recreate it.
19. Opera cake – This may fall under “really complicated cakes” but who doesn’t want to master the layers of almond sponge, ganache and coffee butter icing?!
20. Chocolate fondant – Another Masterchef inspired selection, the downfall of many contestants, but perfecting the gooey inside is another foodie conquest.
What's on your baking bucket list this year?
- Julie Donald