I am not much of a baker. When I went to culinary school, I hated pastries. It just seemed like such a “girl” thing to do, if you know what I mean. And I sucked at it. It was a kind of “If you can’t beat ’em, hate ’em” deal. With cooking, I can almost always save it. You can add a little of this, a little of that, and you have something that, while not fantastic, is at least edible. Baking, on the other hand, is an exact science. If you overwork a cake batter, the gluten develops and you have the consistency of a crumbly bread with frosting.
My grandmother was very good at baking and cooking by feel. She could feel bread dough and know if it needed more flour, more liquid, to be kneaded more or left to rise. Just one poke and she knew what it needed, if anything. And while I seem to have inherited her eye for measurements (it drives me nuts when I see someone on TV say, “Add 1/2 a cup” and then they dump in about 2 cups), it seems that her sense of touch was something that was developed over time. And me pretending not to like baking is probably preventing me from actually developing those skills.
I’ve really been thinking about baking more lately. Nothing fills the house with fabulous scents and good vibes like a loaf of bread in the oven. But I’ve really been thinking about baking cakes lately. Specifically a Devil’s Food Cake with chocolate buttercream frosting. Mmmmm. Or cupcakes. Who doesn’t love cupcakes? Another thing about baking is that it seems so indulgent. We didn’t have dessert a lot in my house growing up, only for special occasions. If I wanted something sweet, my parents gave me the helpful advice of “Have an apple”. I could never tell if they were being sarcastic or not. “Thanks, Mom! When I thought I was craving a chocolate chip cookie, what I really wanted was a bruised up Macintosh! Awesome!” Sigh.
But to make and ice a cake just for yourself and your family does seem indulgent, but loving, too. And I have a stand mixer, so really, what am I waiting for? This weekend, I am going to make that cake. It’s somewhat daunting because there are so many blogs that focus on baking and desserts. I know I’m not a professional, but I think I can turn out an ugly, yet tasty cake. I’ll buy the ingredients and post the update this weekend after I get paid on Friday. Can’t really justify buying good chocolate when I complain to my husband about him buying lunch every day.
Now I’m going to eat an apple because I want something sweet and that’s all we have in the house…