How Did I Learn to Bake?
The easiest answer is I taught myself because I love to do it. I don’t come from a long line of bakers; my grandmother makes banana bread from a mix on special occasions and my mom once threw a pie crust at the wall on Thanksgiving in frustration. But I love the taste of homemade chocolate birthday cake and chocolate icing and the smell of warm cookies. So, I sat in the bookstore on Friday nights with my notebook and copied recipes. I loved to watch Alton Brown’s cooking show because he explained the science behind recipes so I could learn how to alter recipes and create my own. I tested my baked goods on anyone who would eat them and begged for constructive criticism. Then I would run to the kitchen and mark down notes on the recipes and try again until I had perfected it.
As my baking skills developed into treats that people actually wanted (a moment of silence for the dry scones and oddly colored test cakes that were only fit for the garbage), I found people requesting my cakes, cupcakes, and other baked treats for events. I have made cakes for weddings, graduations, anniversaries, and birthdays. Each event is a challenge for me to make the perfect cake for the celebrants to enjoy. I carefully choose a theme and cake flavors. At first I found myself feeling nervous to do each event and cake justice, but baking has taught me to have confidence and pride in my creations.
Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Baking
- Following the rules never lets you down: If you follow a tried and true recipe, you’re going to produce something special.
- There are times to change the rules: You may have a good chocolate chip cookie recipe, but you wish your cookies were a little chewier. You can do some research and figure out a way to make the perfect cookie, but right before your big holiday bash isn’t the right time to do it!
- I’m my toughest critic: There are times when I beat myself up because I forgot half of a cup of sugar, or I baked the cake 10 minutes too long. I would stress and be afraid to present my finished product and then I realized, nobody noticed but me! Being a perfectionist has always been my greatest challenge. I could spend hours perfecting projects, but baking has helped to teach me that my level for perfection doesn’t need to be so high.
- Take your mind off of things: When I have a bad day or I’m searching for a solution, I like to bake something. Baking has presented me with a way to get out of my own head and de-stress after a rough day.
- Sometimes bad things are good for you: Let’s admit, cookies and cake aren’t the staples for a healthy diet. But there are days that you need to treat yourself. When those days roll around and you have a slice of cake when you need to fit into a special dress in a week, it’s important to let yourself enjoy it! Guilt doesn’t make the calories go away, but it does give you frowning wrinkles. You worked hard and if that cake brings you joy, go for it!
- You can overcome any obstacle with time and patience: Obviously I love to bake, but I also love to eat my baked goods! About 5 years ago I stopped being able to eat gluten. It became a real challenge to make baked goods that I couldn’t eat anymore. I tried to make my favorite recipes with gluten-free(GF) flour, but time after time they came out dry and crumbly. I started to become discouraged, but with encouragement from my husband, friends, and family I kept trying. Now I regularly hear “I couldn’t even tell this was GF!”