An Ode to Baking

I thought I’d kick things off with an expression of my love for baking.  Let’s face it, everyone loves a good cake or biscuit, but a lot of people don’t really have the time to bake anymore.  With such tasty options available in the supermarkets, and boutique bakeries and cake shops popping up all over the place, it does seem a bit pointless to bake for yourself if all you want is a cake.

But that’s not all I want from baking.

Baking is a labour of love and there’s something reassuring in the chemistry of it.  I know if I weigh out flour, sugar, eggs and butter properly, and apply heat I will get a basic Victoria Sponge.  That certainty is refreshingly simple.  Things in life aren’t normally like that.  Work is all full of maybes, school and university is all objectivity, waiting and feeling unsure of yourself.  Not baking though.

Of course there are anomalies.  I’ve had biscuits instead of cakes (I blame my rubbish student house oven) but it doesn’t take away the joy.

Tricky baking is my favourite.  My go-to bake is Mary Berry’s Indulgent Chocolate Brownies because there are lots of stages to the recipe.  It takes a bit of brain engagement, not essay level engagement but distraction level, which makes for the perfect escapism.  The results are always divine; soft and fudgey in the middle, a thin crisp crust on the outside and molten lumps of chocolate throughout.  Not only do you get a great way to destress, you then have treats to help you through the rest of your pain!

I recently tried to make Christmas biscuits.  I was feeling the festive spirit and was in the mood for some childishly shaped morsels of loveliness.  The result was a very messy afternoon, a disappointingly oozy biscuit dough and lots of washing up.  But the biscuits (more flowers than snowflakes unfortunately) tasted scrummy and all afternoon I hadn’t once thought about impending deadlines or daunting job applications.  Success!

There’s nothing inherently girly about baking.  I find it all quite physical and demanding.  When I bake at home I’m spoilt by electric mixers and technology to make baking easier, but at university it’s all down to me.  My poor little arm muscles have to work hard to make light and fluffy cakes.  Plenty of guys like a good baking session, especially if they have a sweet tooth.  And when you think about it, most professional bakers are men.

So next time you want to pull your hair out, think of my mantra: Stressed backwards is desserts, so go and make yourself some!

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