Rachael Ray Credits This Dessert for Getting Her Back Into Baking
Food Network star Rachael Ray has often admitted she’s not a huge fan of sweets. The 30 Minute Meals guru actually boycotted baking for decades after a few failed attempts. Thanks to her mother’s love of one special dessert, Ray decided to give confection creation another shot.
Rachael Ray claims ‘I suck at baking’
In 2019, Ray released her book, Rachael Ray 50: Memories and Meals from a Sweet and Savory Life, which offers personal essays and a plethora of recipes. She explained why she didn’t include much content on sugary treats.
“You won’t find a lot of desserts in this book,” Ray admitted. “One reason is that I don’t really like sweets. The other is I suck at baking.”
Apparently, someone else in the family got the goods when it came to baking. Ray’s older sister, Maria, proved to be quite adept at the culinary craft, though Ray did try her hand at some sweets a few times. Discouraged after being bested by her big sis in the bakery department, Ray stuck with savory dishes.
“I have a competitve nature, so any time I feel like a complete failure at anything, it really stays with me,” she revealed. “I stayed away from baking for decades. … But it was eclairs that finally brought me back to baking.”
Rachael Ray’s mom used eclairs to de-stress
Ray shared that as a child, she was able to gauge her mother’s moods based on the quantity of eclairs in the house. They became somewhat of a barometer to her mom’s temperament for the day.
“When we were kids, if my mom came home with eclairs, we knew to watch out,” Ray explained. “They were not intended to be a treat for us. They were a signal that Mom was very angry with one or all of us.”
The Ray kids grew accustomed to seeing eclairs as a sign of their mom’s need for quiet, to be cheered up, or if she had a bone to pick with someone.
“My mom used eclairs as a pressure valve,” the cookbook author said. “If she was upset, she’d have one. Two eclairs meant she was very angry. Three of four eclairs in the box meant someone might not survive. They were her stress management tool.”
Eclairs became Rachael Ray’s go-to dessert
Inspired by her mom’s love of the decadent pastry, Ray decided to get back to baking and gave eclairs a try. Thanks to their simple preparation, eclairs became somewhat of a bridge for Ray to hone her baking skills.
“Eventually, I started making them for her,” Ray wrote. “I’m not a baker, but if you can make a pâte à choux, the dough for gougères (which anyone can, including me), you can make eclairs. Eclairs are also easy to make, so I don’t really need to measure when I make them anymore.”
While eclairs are a popular choice of dessert due to their impressive presentation and decadent textures, Ray has a different reason for making them her number one bakery item.
“I love knowing that if Mom is sad or mad, I have a way to make her happy again,” Ray shared. “Just give her eclairs.”