My tips for stress-free baking and cooking
And a simple yet fabulous coffee pudding
What you are to do without me I cannot imagine. ― George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion
A discussion with a friend a while ago made me realize how many of us often feel too low energy to do anything in the kitchen. Even the easiest and most simple recipe can be daunting and off putting when you are exhausted, busy, or just plain overwhelmed with, well, life. And by you I mean me.
So I thought that I would hit pause on my Substack and let you in on the secret as to how I organize myself when I really want to cook or bake but haven’t been able to face the task, when the task seems just too much time and work. While it seems such a no-brainer, I started doing this only last year when my energy level was at its lowest and I have to say it is just so simple yet it really works.
Simply prepare all of your ingredients and utensils one day and then bake (or cook) the next:
* Print out your recipe - or have a comfortable place for your open cookbook (I bought a simple and cheap book stand at Ikea that keeps my open cookbook propped up, easy to read and off of my limited workspace/countertop.)
* Make sure there are no surprises: read through the entire recipe and check the order things must be done in; check if parts of the recipe need to be done ahead of time, the day before, or in a certain order; for example to heat, melt, cool, chill, rest, rise, etc.
* Gather all of your ingredients together, making sure that you have everything needed for the recipe. You don't want to find yourself missing an ingredient (especially a hard-to-find ingredient) in the middle of preparation.
* Then measure and/or weigh out all of the ingredients one at a time into separate bowls or onto small plates. Once each ingredient is measured or weighed into a small recipient, put the bag/container/bottle they came from away.
* Read the recipe and measure out into a single recipient the ingredients that can and will be blended together: for example, the dry ingredients are often mixed together at the beginning of a recipe so go ahead and measure your flour into a bowl then measure the baking powder, salt, baking soda, spice, etc directly into that bowl with the flour.
* You can now cube, chop, dice or zest any ingredients that can be done in advance and left overnight on the countertop or in the refrigerator, like chocolate, vegetables, fruit, or meat. Go ahead and do it. Can you also already measure out your liquids? Do it.
* Once everything is measured and weighed out and everything else is put away, just gather all the little recipients on a tray or in a corner of the countertop, cover each with plastic wrap, foil, or whatever you like (or just lay a clean kitchen towel over everything) and put all the ingredients that need to be kept in the refrigerator into the refrigerator.
* Take out and prepare your cake pan(s), or whatever utensil or cook/bakeware you’ll need for the recipe, if you like and have the counter space.
THE NEXT DAY, go into the kitchen and you are already halfway there…ready to make your cake, pudding, soup or stew…
I know, it’s a no-brainer, but honestly I only began doing this recently and it’s changed my life. This method makes cooking and baking seem easier, faster, less tiring.
Just one more tip: give yourself more time to prep than you think it will take.
Now you deserve a treat. Like a cup of coffee only better. For the energy boost, of course.
Easy fabulous coffee pudding (eggless & gluten-free)
If left in the refrigerator to chill and set overnight, the sugary sweetness will mellow.
Makes 8 demi-tasse or 4 larger cups
1 ½ cups (350 ml) mix of cream (heavy, light or half and half) + milk (whole or lowfat)
2 tablespoons (18 to 20 grams) cornstarch
Pinch salt (scant ⅛ teaspoon)
¼ cup (50 grams) granulated light brown or white sugar
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
½ cup (125 ml) prepared strong coffee
Whipped cream and cocoa powder to serve.
Have 8 espresso/demitasse cups (or 4 pudding dishes) ready.
Measure out the cream and milk in a medium-sized saucepan (too large a saucepan and your liquid will be too shallow and it will cook too quickly). Bring up to a simmer – just under a boil, as it begins to steam and tiny bubbles will begin to form around the edges of the liquid – over low heat.
As the milk and cream are heating, whisk the cornstarch, salt, sugar, and espresso powder together in a bowl; add the liquid coffee and whisk until the dry ingredients are dissolved and there are no lumps.
As soon as the cream/milk comes just to the boiling point (to a simmer), whisk in the coffee mixture. Continue cooking – and whisking – over low heat until soft bubbles appear. Allow the mixture to boil, whisking, for 1 minute.
Remove from the heat and pour the pudding mixture into a heatproof/Pyrex measuring cup with a lip/spout (this makes pouring into the serving cups easier and cleaner). Carefully divide among the demitasse or serving cups. Cover each with a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and set, preferably overnight.
Serve topped with barely sweetened whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder.
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Wonderful suggestions and I love how clearly you laid out the ideas.
The pudding sounds DIVINE!
I can see how it would!! Well done, & cheers to spreading the word of how it helped you!