After a long and disheartening decision, I’m going to close down my ‘Home Cooking Club’ forum to new members. It will only remain open to those who have contributed to the forum, other than that, no more new members will be accepted. That means in the future, any password-protected posts here in my blog will only be available to those members only. Please do not appeal to me to share those password-protected recipes here for all.
There are two reasons for my decision. Firstly, I’m finding I just don’t have the time to check daily for the sporadic enquiries at the forum on top of having to look after this blog as well. Secondly, no one seems to be interested in using the forum anyway, so I might as well not waste my time keeping the forum open.
It is a shame really as an amateur baker, I find cooking forums are generally more useful than blogs. In a good active forums, you can discuss any topics, asked any questions and get various points of view and answers from more experience cooks or bakers which can greatly help, especially for someone who is just learning to cook or to bake. You can very easily learn the basics by asking/discussing in the forums before attempting more complicated recipes in blogs. Most good forums today also have professionals among the members, so they are also a good opportunity to ask them any questions. Even if sometimes someone gave a wrong answer which is inevitable, there are always others to point out the mistake, so the newbies are not led into a deep hole. I myself benefited greatly from cooking forums in the beginning. In fact I learnt all my skills in baking sponge and chiffon cakes by discussing recipes and various techniques on the cooking forums.
Nowadays, many readers, especially newbies to cooking/baking, prefer to read blogs rather than participating in forums to learn/improve their home cooking/baking skill. This is probably because blogs have beautiful images to accompany the recipes, whereas most forums do not have pictures/photos. However, with blogs, it could also be a case of the blind leading the blind especially the majority of blogs are written by amateurs, and I count myself as one. If a wrong answer is given, it is very easy to be led astray as blog is almost always a one-to-one question-and-answer session between amateurs, which could very easily lead to mistakes upon mistakes being passed on to someone else. As an amateur and a self-taught baker, I also cannot guarantee to provide accurate or more professional answers to enquiries in my blog. I can only give an answer based on my own experience, which may or may not help to answer a question; especially there are sometimes many ways to do a task. Sometimes, one method/technique may not work for an individual, but works especially well for another individual. This is where a forum is very useful as different cooks/bakers can provide and discuss their own proven ways of doing something.
It is also very time-wasting on my part regarding my blog when sometimes a failure with a recipe is due to techniques rather than a particular recipe as I always try to write as clearly as I could for all my tested recipes here. I can tell you that I typed every single word, using in my own words, that appeared here on my blog, I DO NOT do copy-and-paste from someone else’s blogs! To do a post, I usually spent up to a few hours of my free time, from preparing the recipes, taking photos, editing photos, uploading photos online, writing/typing up the recipe and posting it online. So, I would rather spend what’s left of my precious free time doing more baking, searching for new recipes, or reading cookbooks, etc, than spending it answering the same old questions times and again. The most common question I get asked is to do with failed sponge cakes which usually is due to wrong technique being used rather than the recipe itself. I don’t know how many times I have answered the same question under different sponge cake-related posts and to tell you the truth, I’m getting rather tired of answering that same question so many times. It is also very tiresome for me to search through the different posts to find the answers I posted previously. However if that sponge cake question had been asked by someone in the forum, it would be so much easier to find the answer by a quick search for the topic on sponge cakes and readers could have prevented their failed baking attempts if they have prepared and read about others failed attempts first in the forum.
So now that I’ve decided to close down the forum, my advice to the newbies is to learn the basics of baking from a professional first, either by taking baking classes or learning from good cookbooks, or from good teaching videos online before attempting any recipes I posted here. Sometimes I’m bewildered by some of the questions here in my blog which seem to assume that I’m available free to teach them how to bake or provide them with recipes I’ve not tried. Well, I’m not, not here in my blog! However I would have been more than happy to oblige those requests in my forum and discuss them, hopefully with the help of other more experience members, but not here in my blog! I’m really just a blogger sharing tested recipes online, I’M NOT QUALIFIED TO TEACH! Anyway, a forum would be a more appropriate place to ask if you want to seek a particular recipe, and a discussion can follow to test the recipe if someone has provided an untested recipe you are seeking – I particularly hate it when someone asks for a recipe in the comment section under a totally unrelated post in my blog. The comment section is for you to comment on that particular post, not a place for you to ask other questions not related to the post! Even if I can provide an untested recipe, it looks out of place under the unrelated post, also making it rather hard to find in the future if there are a lot of comments in that post, or if the name of the recipe is spelled differently or wrongly.
And please do not attempt to do substituting, or changing the quantity of ingredients if you do not understand how each ingredient works in a recipe. Something as simple as reducing sugar, or using different sized baking tin will impact in the final result of your bakes – that is, different to what my recipe intended. Of course if you are a confident baker, that’s a different story, go right ahead and adapt the recipes if you feel the need to… But please don’t come back and ask me why the recipe fails after you make changes to the recipe. Well, it fails because you make changes to the recipe!
And even if you ask me beforehand in regards to substituting ingredients, I can only advice based on reasonable assumption, I cannot guarantee the success of the recipe with the substituted ingredients, as I have not tested it myself! And I would appreciate and hope you come back and let us know either way, so others know that it works with the substitution or, if it doesn’t, they do not make the same mistake. The ingredients and recipes here in my blog are posted as is, they are what I used. If you want to substitute ingredients, go ahead, if it works, it works; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t but you learn through your mistake, which in my opinion is the best learning tool.