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Whenever I bring homemade treats to a gathering, other people tell me that they can’t bake.  In response, I tell them they’re wrong.  Baking is actually not that hard to do.

The key, for me at least, is to cut corners.  I know, I know, this is really bad, but I’m going to be completely honest with you here.  There are several things that recipes instruct you to do that won’t make a noticeable difference in the final product.  So save yourself some time and effort.  Here are some baking “rules” that I just don’t follow.  You don’t need to do them either.

  • Sift the flour.  Just use your measuring cup to fluff it up a bit while it’s still in the bag before you measure it out.
  • Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl before you add them to the wet ingredients.  Simply mix all your wet ingredients in a large bowl, then add the dry ingredients to the same bowl and mix everything together.
  • Beat eggs together before adding them to the batter.  Unless the recipe calls for you to beat egg whites (in which case, DO IT because it will make a BIG difference in the final product), just crack the eggs into the bowl with the rest of your ingredients, break the yolks with your spoon, and stir them into the batter.
  • Melt chocolate in a double-boiler.  Boiling water scares me.  Just put your chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl, microwave it on 50% power for 1 minute, stir it, and repeat until it’s melted.
  • Make tablespoon-sized balls of cookie dough.  Has anyone actually ever done this?  Just use two spoons to make cookie dough blobs as big or as small as you’d like.

There are other baking rules that you definitely should follow, such as preheating the oven to the correct temperature, measuring your ingredients fairly precisely (though I have been known to eyeball measurements and nobody has called the kitchen police on me yet), and setting a timer so that you remember to remove your treats from the oven.  But those are all obvious and easy to follow.

I can’t bear to write a baking post without sharing a recipe with you, so here is a brownie recipe that I made today.  It’s from Smitten Kitchen, so of course it does not disappoint.  The recipe is courtesy of Deb, but the photos are mine.

My adaptions to the recipe:

  • I lined the baking dish with parchment paper and sprayed it with cooking spray.
  • I melted the chocolate and butter together in the microwave.
  • I used whipped cream cheese for the topping.  I weighed it on a kitchen scale because obviously whipped cream cheese is less dense than regular cream cheese.  Yay for science!
  • I topped the brownies with mini chocolate chips.  Just because.

I hope you enjoy these brownies as much as I do!  If you’ve never baked before, then this recipe is a good one to start with.  Baking is easy, I promise.  🙂