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.
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 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!