Why I bake

My first experience of baking was at secondary school, when we had to make coconut pyramids in Home Economics (is it still called that? Or is it all Nutrition Technology or something now?). Although I enjoyed eating what actually turned out to be little piles of sugary dessicated coconut vaguely held together with a bit of egg, it didn’t really give me the baking bug.

I remember making a lemon drizzle cake for Mother’s Day a few years ago (it was a bit soggy and my mum was rather disdainful of it, unfortunately), and then I moved to Manchester and suddenly I had the urge to bake things like peanut butter and chocolate cookies, pecan pie and the now-famous toffee brownies.

Peanut butter and chocolate cookies

The brownies were such a hit with everyone who tried them (except my mum, who is mysteriously anti-brownie) I trotted them out every time it was my turn to do the charity baking for work. I started trying other recipes from the same book and something clicked. So I kept baking.

I joined Weight Watchers in the summer of 2010 and, curiously, baked more than ever, giving most of my efforts to my boyfriend/family/friends/colleagues and allowing myself a little morsel to spend my weekly ‘treats’ points on.

I made several full-fat Victoria sponges while on WW. The queen of cakes.

I also started to rely on baking as a way of de-stressing, most notably when I was burgled (of just my handbag, fortunately) while I was living on my own – pretty much the first thing I did after dealing with the police, bank etc was rustle up some marbled chocolate brownies!

Mostly, though, the combination of creating something utterly delicious all by myself and making other people very happy by sharing my baking efforts with them seems to be why I bake so much. In a way it’s partly about gaining approval from others; I find positive feedback incredibly motivating and inspiring.

If we’re going to get all Freudian about it I suppose it might be slightly related to absolutely hating being forced to help my mum in the kitchen when I was younger. I was (and still am) terrible at making chapattis and my mum would shout at me every time I got it wrong, which just made me feel even less inclined to keep trying.

While I’ve since learned to at least make a curry that *might* pass muster at home, I’m very glad to have found one area of cooking that I love and that I think I’m actually good at! Although my mum still shouts at me for baking ‘too much’ – I just can’t win…!

Right, that’s the self-analysis over with. Coming up soon: a post on baking tips and pics of my next sugary creation.

This post was requested by my friend and fellow cake lover at Japanophile. Post a comment if you’d like me to cover something in particular in a future post!


4 thoughts on “Why I bake

  1. You see? Interesting. I think the process of baking is an introvert one – like you say, it’s something we can do alone, without anyone else’s involvement, and it’s best done with nobody else in the house. Don’t know about you, but I find the whole baking thing becomes stressful if there’s someone else in the vicinity. They don’t even have to be in the kitchen with me. I just have to sense their presence and baking loses its calming influence.

    • Yes, I don’t really like it when there’s someone else around while I’m baking. It’s a very personal thing, I think! I may have to get over that if I ever get to sign up for the cake decorating class I’ve got my eye on though!

      Re. the introvert/extrovert thing – that’s really interesting. Seems to lend weight to the argument (well, my argument) that a lot of people who genuinely love baking do it partly as a way of expressing themselves.

  2. Also – out of the people I know who LOVE baking for the sake of it, all of them are introverts. The people I know who bake because they see it as some kind of competition, they tend to be extroverts.

    Someone should do a study.

  3. Pingback: Re-bake: pitta bread | The Very Hungry Baker

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