The Benefits of Baking

In the months since I’ve graduated, I have taken up baking. Yes, baking. There came a strange lethargy where writing was concerned, and nothing I seemed to write had the zest and flavor I wanted. So I set my writing on hibernation and turned to baking.

Baking in itself, is a challenge. Baking with a broken oven is something even my culinary professional of a mother had abandoned years ago. In an attempt to fix a very basic problem, my father managed (as he tends to do sometimes) to destroy our oven beyond repair. Thus, baking in our household has always been what my mother and I like to call, “Blind Baking”. Thanks to broken knobs, I never know at what temperature I am baking. I could put cake into the oven for 5 minutes and it will burn to a crisp. Or batter can sit in the oven for 2-3 hours and not get done at all. It is also an extremely temperamental oven, that seemed to blame my mother for its knob-like hardships and would go off with a victorious BANG! whenever she attempted to bake something. It is kinder to me, however.

My parents have told me not to bake anything till we get a new oven, in terror that the oven will go “Kaboom!” and take me with it. And while I accept this as very valuable advice, I can’t help myself.

There is something very soothing about the science of baking. Its precision appeals to my very uncertainty. When Im beating eggs, or folding chocolate into flour, I forget that I’m restless and lonely and that I seem to have lost the ability to write (the only thing I am actually good at) I love baking for the very reasons my mother despises it. My mother loves cooking where she can just throw things together, a dash here, a spoonful there, and she never really knows what she’s doing, and its always fabulous. I love baking because of its precision, and its accuracy. I love that you CANT add things here and there just because you feel like it, that you need a certain amount of eggs, a certain cupful of flour etc to create perfection. After dedicating most of my life to being vague and impulsive, it is nice to have an avenue where I can be careful and meticulous. Where I can actually be scientific instead of being artistic. Where there are rights and wrongs and no maybes or perhaps.

In the span of some months, I have progressed beyond plain old chocolate cake. There were ginger chocolate cookies (triumph), cherry chocolate cookies (disaster), pineapple upside down (a very rich triumph), lemon bars (disaster) and today, pear bread (triumph of the warmest homeliest sort) and shortly, I shall progress to pies and muffins (especially because I recently purchased a very yay pie plate and an even yayer tray for teeny tiny muffins)

This obsession is a good one, it provides me with clarity. And the best thing is, clarity added with the gorgeous smells pervading the house, a cup of tea and a plateful of either triumph or disaster, managed to get me writing again.

Which just proves that maybe poor old Marie Antoinette was cruelly misjudged. There really IS something to this cake business.


2 thoughts on “The Benefits of Baking

  1. I will bet on it that when the new swanky oven arrives (hopefully before 2010) you will miss our poor old malfunctioning oven. When are we going to be treated to the pies and muffins – its been 3 days since I got you the new trays. Get cracking and start baking. Jaldi, jaldi.

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