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Bakers Vs. Cooks: Gender Deathmatch !

That title sounds way more intimidating than I meant it to sound, but it’s out there, so I guess I’m stuck with it at this point.  The bakers vs. cooks conversation is one I’ve had many times with quite a few different people and the conversation always revolves around gender roles in the kitchen.  Eventually, the conversation always gets around to the fact that women are better bakers and men are better cooks.
Buddy Cake BossThis is particularly true in my house where my husband can grill or cook just about anything into a culinary delight.  Unfortunately I am more renowned for my incredible failures in the kitchen, rather than my successes.  (Check out my polish lasagna as case in point for this.)  As deficient as my cooking skills might be, even my husband would agree that I can make some mean beer bread and when I want to, some pretty stellar cookies.
Now there are obvious exceptions to this rule: my mother for instance is an amazing baker and an amazing cook.  But if I had to choose between her pot roast and her sugar cookies, I’d choose sugar cookies every time.  I’m also assuming that that Buddy guy from Cake Boss is a pretty good baker – I mean he has a show on cable.  He has to be good, right?  Exceptions aside, I think that for the majority of people, the gender divide holds true in the kitchen and here are a few reasons why:

1. Men Like to Color Outside the Lines

There is a distinct difference between the amount of eyeballing that is allowed in cooking and in baking.  In cooking, you can throw various spices into the mix, you can test out different vegetables and you can make a pretty mean soup or chili if you have some beans, meat and water.  It’s a little more difficult to improvise when in the baking world.  Baking requires a lot of exact measurements of very specific ingredients.  The wrong measurement or the wrong type of flour can doom your cake to be flat and tasteless.
In a nutshell, I think that the nature of cooking allows the chef to be more flexible with ingredients and measurements.  And that’s why men excel more at cooking than women do.  By their nature, most men are more likely to take risks and push boundaries than your average woman.  I’m not sure if this is due to genetic programing or that as a society we’ve raised our men to take more risks, but I believe that a man is much more likely to put their own spin on a recipe than a woman is.  That kind of creativity and flexibility works well in cooking, but does not work as well in baking.

Woman Showing Man Directions2. Men Don’t Like to Follow Directions

Ok, so I’m generalizing a bit here, but you know the stereotype that a man will never ask for directions?  I think the same applies in the kitchen.  A man could have the directions right in front of him, but inevitably, he’ll try and find a faster, more interesting way to get to his destination.  This mentality can yield some amazing results when it comes to pasta or pot roast, but will likely spell disaster for muffins or cake.
On the other hand, women are generally very good at following directions.  Most women I know want to make sure things go according to plan and believe that if something was written in a book or a blog, the writer had to know what they were doing.  Inevitably, a women won’t take the unmarked side road or throw in some cumin when the recipe doesn’t call for it.  The ability to color within the lines and adhere to the directions is what makes most women excellent bakers.

3. Men Have Bigger Egos

Man Cooking In KitchenSo along with not following directions and coloring outside the lines, men are generally also equipped with larger than average egos.  This means that a man will generally believe that he is correct, that his way of doing things is better and that he is smarter than most people.  This superiority complex extends to those who write recipes and so an ego-driven male won’t hesitate to “improve” a recipe found in a book, magazine or blog.  With confidence, he’ll add new ingredients, cook something longer or scrap the recipe altogether and create his own dish.
On the other hand, a woman is much more likely to keep her ego in check and defer to the “experts”.  Again, having your ego in check when it comes to baking is a good thing – it keeps the boundaries in check and allows your cake or rolls to rise when they are supposed to.  On the other hand, a little more ego when it comes to cooking is probably a good thing since you can easily bring in new tastes and flavors without destroying your dish.
So what do you think?  Am I pre-programmed to be a better baker because I’m female?  Are the cooking genes embedded in my uber-masculine husband merely because he’s male?  I may be way off base here, but according to my cooking skills, I think I’m right on.  What do you think?

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