It’s early morning or late at night. It’s noon on a Wednesday or 4 p.m. on a Sunday. The inspiration strikes any time and the draw of the kitchen is magnetic for me. When it’s time to bake, it’s an instinctive act, and there is no other option. And I pull out pans, measure ingredients and read recipes daily, the way I brush my teeth or shower or check emails. Baking is past the point of ritual; it’s my business and passion as a home baker.
What is it in the act of baking that breeds an eagerness to bake more often and elaborately? It’s hard, hot, precise work, yet so satisfying and for many of us, a profession we pursue all our lives that’s fueled by personal desire. We don’t have to bake to live, but we see what we do as living to bake.
Here are some of the reasons we mix our lives and dough together to created a baking life:
The kitchen is a happier place: When things smell good, friends, family and potential clients stop by to sniff, sample and buy. The utensils may be worn, the baking sheets a little warped and the wallpaper somewhat old-fashioned, but when decorated cakes, warm cookies, and precisely-crimped pies are ready, no one notices anything else.
Food communicates when words cannot: What I bake helps people express feelings of sorrow, love, forgiveness, hope, and happiness in the form of gifts to others. And when my family, friends or clients are having THAT kind of day, they get a mood fix from my kitchen in the form of a cupcake or brownie. And that sweet treat is cheaper than an hour with a psychiatrist!
My home kitchen is home to others: My family lives here and uses the kitchen, but for people with no baking skills or no one to share a strawberry pie, my kitchen becomes theirs for a little while. They absorb their ambiance and grace while enjoying the company.
Baking brings mindfulness: Concentrating on measuring, rolling, cutting and filling dough, smoothing frosting and beating batter requires focus and concentration. Baking blots out the day’s other problems in favor of doing this one task just right.
Baking contributes to the world’s mental and physical health: Fresh, home-baked goods made without artificial ingredients represent value for the money; a little higher investment in better quality ingredients, sourced and prepared locally. The baker’s investment of time and care is a sacrifice appreciated by customers, who understand that we bake not to trumpet our talent to the world, but instead to share the food we love with people we know love it, too.