Over the last few weeks I’ve binged all three seasons of The Great British Baking Show on Netflix. And it’s reminded me of how much I love to bake.
I’m an ok cook. I can make the basics and feed myself no problem. Functionally, I know how to do it. But I’m not inventive and have no real instinct for it. Nor do I care to put much effort into it when I’m just feeding myself.
Baking alleviates that need for invention. If cooking is an art, then baking is a science. Follow the recipe and it’s quite difficult to go wrong. As I’m good with instructions, this suits me well. I don’t have to come up with stuff on my own and I can let someone else be in the creativity driver’s seat.
I’m not as good as the show’s competitors, and some of Mary and Paul’s technical challenges are for desserts I have no interest in, but I’ve been baking since I was a kid and I really love it.
I’ve also made a few things lately that I’m quite proud of, even if they are more simple than what would win me Star Baker.
It’s March, so I’ve made about 200 Hamantashen cookies with my mom’s recipe that I shared a few year’s ago. We pack these up in little trays to share with our neighbors and I always take some to my coworkers. They’re a family favorite too.
I’ve just made a Banana Bread with a highly rated recipe from Epicurious. I’m going to stay with a friend’s family in New York this weekend and my mother taught me never to show up somewhere empty handed. So I popped this loaf into the freezer and will defrost it on the five hour drive north.
I’ve mentioned these Blueberry Muffins from Smitten Kitchen once before, but they really are the perfect little breakfast bite. And since it uses melted butter and frozen blueberries, I don’t have to wait around for anything to get to room temperature if I decide to make them last minute. I bake a dozen of these every few weeks and take them with me to work with some fresh fruit for a truly tasty start to my day. (Note: I do leave off the sugar topping and sometimes I toss in a bit of extra lemon).
It’s a bit hard to bake in an apartment where all my things are tucked away into spare corners, but I’m interested in working to improve my skills. Especially when it comes to bread baking. I’ve made scones and biscuits before, but there’s nothing better than a fresh loaf of crusty bread and I’d really love to be able to make one.
I’ve had some experience with Quick Breads (like the above Banana Bread) that use baking soda for their rise instead of yeast. So I think my first stop on the bread skills train is going to be an Irish Soda Bread. Then I plan to try Pita Bread since it looks fairly straightforward in terms of kneading and is one of my favorite things to dip in hummus.
At the end of the day though I really just find baking relaxing. It’s the only time being in the kitchen mellows me out and, unlike cooking which is necessary work, baking is the little something extra that always gets appreciated. It’s quite simple once you get a feel for it, but no matter how simple the item you’ve made, people always find it to be an impressive skill. And I can’t say I hate the compliments!