You’re either a cook or a baker, right?

Cooks get to tap-dance over to the stove, throwing a dash of this or a splash of that over their shoulder into a pot of simmering dinner. If a dish isn’t quite right, a bigger pinch of salt or a splash of wine will make each testing taste better than the last, until it reaches perfect-for-dinner status.

Bakers, on the other hand, are married to a recipe, flanked by measuring cups and scales, thermometers, protective gloves, and rules. SO. MANY. RULES. It’s the rules that can intimidate would-be bakers to cling tightly to their status as “cooks.” I get it.

Voraciously’s Baking Basics newsletter is here to break down the most important rules of baking, because the rules are the keys to success. In this eight-week series, I’m going to help you become a better, more confident baker.

Baking is a transformation. When we braise, say, short ribs, we’re asking our ingredients to mingle and emerge from the oven as … short ribs.

When we place a mixture of butter, sugar, eggs and flour in the oven, we’re asking those ingredients to transform into cake. And not just any cake, but the grand finale to a dinner gathering or the centerpiece of granddaddy’s 99th birthday party — no big deal.

That kind of transformative magic requires a few rules, yes. That kind of magic also calls for attention, patience, skill and hope. It’s a practice and a meditation, and — here’s the most important thing to remember — there’s cake at the end!

I’m Joy Wilson, better known as Joy the Baker. I’m a self-taught baker turned professional baker and cookbook author. Because I’m self-taught, I’ve made truly all of the mistakes in the kitchen, and I’m here to hype you up and walk you through your first baking adventures.

In Baking Basics, you’ll learn the fundamentals of baking, which will give you the tools you need to confidently approach any recipe with a “hey, I can do this” attitude. We’ll start with classic recipes you’ve likely seen and maybe tried in the kitchen with varying degrees of success. We’ll talk about ingredients and why they do what they do. Nothing is willy-nilly in baking (well, except vanilla extract), and I want you to know the power behind each ingredient. You’ll learn basic techniques that will create building blocks to the next technique, layering skill, understanding and confidence.

When the eight weeks are up, you’ll know how a recipe comes together and, just as importantly, why it works. That’s all the power you need to unlock a world of sweets right from your very own oven.

Here’s what you can expect in your inbox each week:

  • A fundamental baking rule made easy to understand and apply.
  • A short list of kitchen essentials you’ll need for that week’s recipe.
  • A classic recipe related to each week’s baking rule for you to master and share.

Voraciously is all about your baking success. You can sign up at any time to start with Week 1 when you and your oven are ready for us. Every Friday morning for 8 weeks, we’ll pop into your inbox with a quick lesson and a classic — and delicious! — recipe designed to build your confidence, and explore the whys of baking in the kitchen.

I hope you’ll sign up, tell your friends to sign up, dust off your sheet pans and hop into the kitchen with me. Let’s unlock the magic!

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