Baking Like a Pro
The long road to being head baker has taught Hopkin some very important lessons about baking, lessons she is all-too-willing to share.
“If I had any suggestion, it is to practice,” she says, clarifying that pies and bread are the most difficult items for home cooks because they require so much experiential knowledge.
Anyone who has made bread or pie dough can attest: these doughs are temperamental. Several things that can affect these types of doughs are humidity, dry climate, how much a mixture is stirred, how much oil is in your hands, how long the flour has been stored, where it’s been stored, where the wheat of the flour comes from, how the wheat was processed, etc. That’s why Hopkin encourages practice—it allows a cook to know how to adapt in certain situations.
Hopkin’s next big tip is to pay attention to texture and don’t feel like you need to add all the flour in the recipe. This is especially problematic with rolls. “Bread is a stiffer dough—to be able to raise and hold and not have lots of holes in it,” she says, pointing out that some people rely on experience with tough bread dough to color experiences with rolls. “With roll dough, the softer the dough, the softer the rolls you’re going to have.” Roll dough, when formed into a ball, should hold its shape; when you move the ball around in your hand, though, it should fall over the sides.
If you’re committed to learning how to be a good cook, you must steel yourself to bear some disappointment. “You just have to be patient with yourself,” says Hopkin, “and know that it’s okay if you have to throw a batch away, or if your family has to crunch with their forks a little bit harder!”
With these tips, some time, a few failures, and the loving care with which a recipe should be prepared, you’re sure to bring a little of the tradition and warmth of the Lion House into your gatherings this holiday season. And if you watch carefully, you might see your home transforming into the kind of home for which Brigham Young always strove—a gathering place where all feel welcomed and loved.
Special thanks to the Lion House; Nancy Thomas Davies, author of “The Lion House,” an unpublished but complete history of the Lion House; and also Laura Willes, author of Christmas with the Prophets. Lion House Pies is now available at Deseret Book.
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