It is really interesting how interests evolved and grow. I, for one, would not have pegged myself for being one of those ‘make it yourself’ type of people. Even when we got the oven, it was mainly for my sister. I got curious about baking, went to research on cake (because everyone loves cake and commercial cake is really bad for our family – parents with diabetics and us two at a hereditary risk). I found myself falling into that world so fast that my head still spins until today.
I started off making no-bake cookies and cakes and quickly upgrades to baking them. At that point in time, I am still wary of altering recipes and so found myself with many too sweet cookies and cakes. Once I started to cut down the amount of sugar required in the recipes, the products become much more palatable.
Then I discovered bread. I first started to make bread using recipes from a real cookbook, the first one I got. I was apprehensive of using yeast and kept on checking whether it rises. It rose beautifully and it was delicious, though being such a large batch, it took us some time to finish it. I will admit, I went a bit crazy, making three different batches in just three days. We were heartily tired of bread by the time we finished them all.
For me, bread is one of the easiest thing to bake, until one batch failed so utterly that it is more brick-like than bread-like. Then I realized that ambient temperature is as important as they always tell you. Even in hot and humid Malaysia, rainy days still meant failure to bread left to rise on the counter top. A tip I found on allrecipes.com worked well for me: pour a pan of near boiling water into a baking pan or a large plate placed at the bottom of the oven and place the dough inside to rise. It works out every time and I no longer has the trouble of failed bread. I thought that is all to my obsession to homemade goods.
Of course, then I am introduced to soap making by a friend. While soap making may be much cheaper in other countries, it is ridiculously expensive in Malaysia where it is very very very difficult to get hold of one of the essential materials: lye, or sodium hydroxide. After that, the different oils and essential oils as well as colourants do not make it any cheaper. To date, I have only made one batch of lemon-scented soap which should mature in about 2 months. Although I have been meaning to make a second batch (chocolate soap!) today, I forgot to get the materials needed and so my plans are thwarted. Oh well, it will keep.
The same friend asked me about gluten-free bread (she has a nephew who was put on a gluten-free diet for health purposes) which I neglect to research for such a long time. She has heard of flourless bread, which to me sounds quite impossible until I checked it with Google and finds that not only is it very possible, but probably tastes as good as normal bread.
There’s only one problem: the recipes frequently asked for coconut flour or almond flour, both of which, again, is quite difficult to source in Malaysia. So off I went again on another research binge: how to make coconut flour. It turns out to be quite easy, though tedious. Why not almond flour, one may ask. Well, it is because coconuts are cheaper than almond here and it make sense to go the inexpensive road although I might make some almond flour for just for special occasions.
Seriously, I have too many interests when I should be studying. But then, I wouldn’t have as much fun without all these projects. So I guess I will just have to learn to manage my time well.