When I started baking from scratch four years ago, it was after watching many episodes of Ina Garten's "The Barefoot Contessa". To be perfectly honest, it wasn't her main courses that held my attention, but when she featured baking.
I had watched umpteen episodes of Martha Stewart baking, but it just seemed too intimidating to me - all those perfectly measured ingredients, laid out on a sheet tray on the counter waiting for her magical touch. With Ina, she reminded me more of how I work in the kitchen. There's flour on the counter, the ingredients are all over the place and the utensils just get dumped in the sink until I'm done mixing. Ina made it seem so much more fun and relaxed.
The most important things I learned from Ina where *why* certain things had to be done, why ingredients needed to be measured accurately and why you had to make sure temps were right before anything went into the oven. Until I watched her mix scones, I didn't know the reason butter had to be very cold was for the chemical reaction in the oven that caused the butter to melt and puff up those scones. Hey, I had no idea it was actually chemistry! ;)
I make many of her recipes absolutely as they were written, but have adapted some of them to suit my taste. Ina's carrot cake inspired my revised recipe, which has a lot more crushed pineapple, less oil and sugar and it's inhaled by my fans as soon as it's cooled.
I'm still looking forward to making her cranberry scones. :)