World Baking Day with a YYC baker
Interview with From Scratch By Madi
There are more than a few days each year where people get their hands in the flour to celebrate—Thanksgiving, Christmas and Pi day come to mind—but there’s one day where turning on the oven and breaking out the mixing bowl are a must, World Baking Day, which is today!
We caught up with Calgary-based bakers and sisters Madi and Reigan to learn more about why they started baking and their top baking tips.
What inspired you to pursue baking and start your own business?
Madi: In high school, I often spent my Friday nights baking cookies or whatever else I had saved on Pinterest. I took foods throughout high school, but never thought it would be something I would pursue as a career.
After graduation, I took time off to travel, and came back not knowing what I wanted my next step to be. I knew I wanted to pursue higher education, but the university brochures I had saved from my high school guidance counsellor just made me more confused.
I had already made some wedding cakes for family members and knew I loved baking, so I decided to apply to the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in Vancouver.
After I graduated, Regian and I started a Facebook page to share our baking with our mom’s friends over the holidays. We made a small menu, posted some photos and it ended up turning into the busiest Christmas ever. Our mom has always been an entrepreneur, so the idea of being our own bosses has always stood out to us. Reigan comes from a business background, and with my culinary background it’s the perfect partnership!
How important is using high quality ingredients like wheat/flour in your baking?
Reigan: High quality ingredients result in high quality products. In a day and age where you can go to the grocery store and have a variety of products at your fingertips, it is important to understand quality.
For flour, this is highly based on protein content. In general, cakes made with all-purpose flour (average protein content) are a bit tougher, whereas those made with a softer pastry or cake flour (lower protein) are more delicate. Flour is like the skeleton of any baked good, and having the proper resources to understand different flours and how to use them is what makes a product great.
We’re lucky to live in a province that grows high-quality wheat for baking. Our dad’s side of the family has been in the farming industry in Alberta since the 1940s. Although we never grew up on a farm, some of our fondest memories come from summer visits there. We understand the hard work and sacrifice that comes with farming wheat, and we’re so grateful to all of the farmers who grow it for us. A baker’s best friend!
What are some baking tips you can offer? Any secret ingredients?
Madi: Baking is a science, and although it’s important to typically stick to a recipe, there are a few tips and tricks we’ve picked up over the years that may help speed up the process.
Tip one: Make sure your ingredients are room temperature! This may not seem like a big deal, but trust us on this. Creaming butter that is fresh out of the fridge is going to take you 10 times longer than using butter that is already softened at room temperature. We also suggest keeping your eggs at room temperature. If you forget to take them out before you start baking, an easy trick is to place the eggs in a bowl and cover them with hot water and allow them to sit for 10(ish) minutes!
Tip two: If you’re making a cake, we highly recommend spraying the pan and lining the bottom with parchment. Some people or recipes only recommend one or the other, but speaking from experience, nothing is more frustrating than trying to remove your cake from the pan and having it break because the bottom half is still stuck.
Tip three: Invest in wire cooling racks! Carry over cooking is something that takes place when cookies stay on a pan for too long once they’re out of the oven. Although there is not 350° heat, the residual heat from the baking sheet is still cooking the bottom of the cookies. Instead of keeping them on the pan for the entire cooling process, allow them to rest for 1-2 minutes after they’re removed from the oven and then transfer to cooling racks.
Or…our personal favourite is to just eat the cookies straight out of the oven. There is truly nothing like a fresh cookie!
Tip four: Using a recipe that calls for buttermilk, but don’t have buttermilk? 1 cup of milk mixed with 1 tbsp of vinegar will work just fine! Simply pour both ingredients into a bowl and allow it to sit for 5 minutes.