Last night, I made three failed batches of buttercream icing. Three. I tried fixing them, I tried working with them, and I threw them down the drain.
I’m insecure about my cooking abilities. I like to think that I am an amazing cook, I have many people tell me I’m great at it, and then there’s always that one night with the three batches of buttercream.
I was crying into the sink, saying “I just need to give up baking. This is just stupid.” I felt like the biggest phony in blogging history. After all, I’m always making recipes to share with you all, to show you these great, simple treats, and I’m not even capable of making buttercream. Seriously? Who can’t make buttercream? Pretty much every blogger who mentions baking can create a good buttercream.
And then I remembered, I’m not Martha Freaking Stewart. I’m not going to always have the perfect recipe on the first, third, fifteenth try. But it takes trying. And trying. And trying again. I can’t tell you guys how many times that I bake something to blog about, and then it doesn’t end up on here because it just didn’t turn out. I copy down the recipe exactly as I made it, write down information about what was wrong with it (too runny, didn’t set up, dry as a rock) and environmental factors (milk’s expiration date was yesterday but it smelled okay, it was a billion degrees in this house or maybe just 80 but still a billion, I used a fork instead of an electric mixer) and I file the recipe away. I bake other things. Sometimes I forget that recipe entirely. Sometimes I come back to it, tweak it, try it again with new milk or higher air conditioning or fresher strawberries or less sugar, and I see if, just maybe, this time it will work. If it doesn’t, I add my changes or tweaks to the recipe, write down what went wrong this time, and give it a few more days.
Does it seem like a waste of ingredients? Maybe. Although, failed or not, many of my attempts get eaten because I have an army of awesome taste testers (thank you mom, Jeffrey, dad, Mireia, Katie, Drew, Sabine, Carolin, Marius, Lucas, Sebastian and everyone else who I’ve subjected to my concoctions over the years). I also have a super supportive mom who lets me destroy the kitchen and fill every single clean mixing bowl with batter, icing, sauce, and more, and a family who is willing to show Zach “just three more Sesame street songs and then I’ll be done, promise!”
And so it goes. I get rid of the lumpy, weird buttercream (I tried every fix I could find online and it still wasn’t working). I set aside the recipe, I make something else.
I just want to encourage you today. I know from personal experience that, when you look at a food blog and hear the Hallelujah chorus, and then you go and make it and it looks like a completely failed attempt, well, I hear you.
Some of my recipes are good. I mean, really good (you guys have tried them and then told me so!) But I just want to let you know, if you try to make one of my recipes, and it didn’t work… yeah, well, many of them didn’t work for me the first, second, fifth times. A lot of the recipes I post required tweak after tweak before I figured it out. Don’t get discouraged! When you’re crying over a sink of failed buttercream, think about the recipes you’ve tried that turned out the way you wanted them to. Think about the good recipes you’ve made, the ones that have been worth your time and energy. Rinse out the sink, breathe, figure out what might have gone wrong, and make something else.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re incredible. You’ll pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and figure out something that works. Breathe. Love yourself today, and give yourself a big hug. You deserve it.
Because this? Well, this happens to everyone at least a few times.