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> I tried a lot of variations on it and then had to concede that the person who wrote the recipe got it just right.

Part of this phenomena comes from 20th century cooking (especially for sweets): the ingredients are mass produced to high standards of consistency, and hence there may be one just right recipe (especially if you're backing in a climate controlled kitchen at sea level). Consider, instead, artisanal bread baking in 2018. Your flour comes from a food coop which used to get it stone ground by an Amish cooperative, but now switched suppliers to a local farmer -- and the recipe needs to change. Your sourdough starter turned acidic because you went away on vacation and it sat in the fridge -- change the recipe again! It's an unusually damp and chilly day, and the loaf is sitting out during its second rise -- you'll need to change the recipe!

Of course this is part of the thrill of this sort of baking -- that you have to understand the underlying processes, not just the well-made building blocks, to end up with good results. Sort of like switching from running OS X or Windows to, say, Linux from Scratch...

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