New Year, New Reads: Baking And Pastry Blogs

While I like to cook, baking is my true love -- that's probably evident if you've been a long-time subscriber to my blog. I was thinking the other day, while preparing some chicken to make chicken cacciatore, that there are some obvious reasons why I love baking more than cooking. The first might just be because I cannot stand the sight of raw chicken pieces, and I wish I could go through life without ever touching them. (However, walk by the butcher's counter with me, and I'll ogle the red meat -- is that weird?) Something about chicken just gets me the wrong way. I like and it and I'll eat it, but it goes down much easier if someone else has made it or if I try not to think about what I saw while preparing it.

More seriously though, I'm big on following recipes, and it's a pretty known fact that baking is a science while cooking is an art, meaning that baking requires following certain rules while cooking can be a lot more creative. I'm quite good at following rules. Ask me to draw outside the lines though, and I will be very hesitant. That said, there is still room for creativity in baking. You can start with a basic recipe and change flavors and ingredients to wind up with something completely different. I'm always looking for inspiration for my baking, and besides the numerous cookbooks I flip through on a nightly basis, there are some blogs that I admire and seek inspiration from too.

I read a lot of blogs... a lot. But there are several that stand out to me, and I wanted to share some with you because it's possible that you're looking for some new reading material in the new year -- I know I always am. This list is by no means comprehensive. These are just some of the baking and pastry blogs near and dear to my heart.

First, there's Julie. Julie has a beautiful blog called Willow Bird Baking, which she describes as, "...the chronicle of the kitchen experiments, successes, failures, discoveries, messes, miracles, and musings of a determined upstart of a baker in Charlotte, North Carolina." Julie is someone I really identify with. I can tell she's an incredibly supportive girlfriend, a great person to have as a friend, and someone who knows that good food can make someone smile. We both have this enormous passion for baking, and I look at so many of the recipes she shares, and I think how much I want to make those things too. As a matter of fact, I made the cream cheese pound cake with caramel frosting that she posted about back in October. It was every bit as rich and amazing as she said it would be.

Then there's Jill. Jill not only writes a blog but also has an online shop where you can order her delicious baked goods. How awesome is that?! I am a fairly new reader of Jillicious Discoveries, and I can bet I missed out on a lot. I'm happy to be keeping up with Jill now. She has an enormous amount of talent, and even went to culinary school and trained as a pastry chef. Did you see the gingerbread houses she made? One was an adorable bake shop! I also want to thank Jill for the blog award she gave me. It's always fabulous when you find out that someone who inspires you is also inspired by you. Thanks, Jill!

There's also Emily. I'm not even sure how I first found Emily's blog, but I'm so glad I did. Soon after I left my first comment on her blog, she emailed me with advice and has consistently done so. I was stunned that someone who is a professional pastry chef and cookbook author would take the time to write back to me -- an everyday person who had just started her first baking job. I quickly became a regular reader. One thing I turn to Emily's blog for, especially now that I have an ice cream maker, is ice cream creations! She also shares tons of other recipes. And I love hearing her insight into the pastry world and cookbook writing. While I don't currently have plans to write a cookbook, I do want to get into cookbook editing and do more recipe testing, so this is really helpful.

And I can't forget the blog that is owned by my favorite flour company: Bakers' Banter is written by bakers at King Arthur Flour. According to the About page, their mission "...is to help you become the very best baker you can be." I'm always finding interesting tips and recipes on this blog.

For more blogs I love, you can also check out the blogrolls in the left sidebar. I've made two categories -- one with bloggers from around the Boston area, where I live, and one with bloggers from everywhere else. (If I accidentally have you in the wrong category, just let me know.) And if you're really looking for more, my Google Reader is chock-full of others that I'm completely willing to share.

What are some of your favorites?