"I'm at my happiest when my apron is covered in flour!"

- Julia Estrada

Baking combines my love for making art and creating delicious food.

As a child, I was encouraged to study any artistic discipline I took an interest in, from ballet to piano to painting to theatre. If I wasn't in a class learning about my latest artistic obsession, I was at home with my mom, cooking and baking up a storm. In 2019 I started my blog, Bread & Basil, to share the culinary work I had been doing since childhood. Now I develop recipes and make creative content through photos, videos, and hosting on-camera. I've found the perfect blend of culinary arts and fine art to satiate my creative appetite!

The Milo Dutch Oven helps me bake artisanal breads in my New York City apartment kitchen.

Aside from being an lovely piece of cookware, one of the secrets to making beautiful, crusty breads at home is baking in a Dutch oven! The Milo Dutch oven is the perfect size for baking artisan breads, and the heavy, tight-fitting lid helps trap in steam that gives bread that extra "oomph" in its rise. Before baking, put your loaf onto a piece of Kana parchment paper, drop it into the preheated Milo Dutch oven, and be amazed at how puffy your bread is when you take off the lid!

SHOP JULIA'S FAVORITE

Baking is a practice of art and science.

Much of the beauty that comes from "picture perfect" baked goods is a result of following good technique.

Unlike cooking, precise measurements are key to replicating a baking recipe's desired results.

Reading a recipe from beginning to end before starting can help you be prepared for any required resting or chilling times.

That said, you can use the same concepts for great savory results, too!

Julia's Favorite Baking Tips

How can I make baking less intimidating as a beginner?

My most important tip is to learn how to use all of your senses in the kitchen. What does the dough feel like, look like, smell like, taste like, and sound like? Relying on the exact times in a recipe without using sensory perception can lead to disappointing results, so be sure to pay attention to the sensory cues given and treat the timing as a guideline. For example, sometimes an oven runs hot or cold, and yours may not exactly match the temperature of the recipe developer's oven. So rather than taking your cookies out at exactly 10 minutes, look to the recipe for the cues that they're done, such as "golden brown around the edges with the tops dry to the touch."

Why do your baking recipes include weights and volumes?

Any professional pastry chef will tell you that the best way to measure ingredients is by weight, not volume--it's more precise and consistent. When developing a recipe, I always weigh the amount of ingredient first, then figure out how much it is in terms of tablespoons or cups to keep it accessible for those who don't have a scale. But if you're baking often (especially breads), I highly recommend getting one that measures in grams and ounces!