While in the midst of brainstorming my patisserie bake for the semi-final of bake off, I was musing over what baking means to me and the impact that it’s had on my life. It’s one of my hobbies, but more than that it’s a passion; something I enjoy doing, feel a sense of accomplishment out of and sometimes do to relax. (Although Bake Off challenges are not relaxing.) But before I do a grand ode to baking – which will come, at a later date – I thought I would have Sam weigh in with his thoughts on baking.
Take it away, Sam!
It’s testament to Amanda’s skills that I have spent the past few years under the assumption that baking is pretty easy. I am occasionally invited into the kitchen to mix something, wash up a bowl or open a particularly stubborn jar, but when I have completed my task I am always ushered out again. Then, from out of nowhere, maybe an hour or two later, another serving of deliciousness is presented.
I decided that I would bake a cake. Nothing fancy, just a tasty looking chocolate cake recipe that I found. I think I was spurred into action because I was in Amanda’s bad books for some misdemeanour or other (the state of my side of the shoe cupboard, probably – I’m always in trouble for that – yes, it must have been the shoe cupboard) and hoped that baking a lovely cake would right that wrong.
Now, I have baked before, in my youth, but never unsupervised. Setting out on a solo bake was an error initiated by arrogance. The whole thing was a disaster ending with me losing my temper and declaring that baking was a huge conspiracy against me. Surprise, surprise Amanda had to come into the kitchen and rescue the situation, tutting and wearing a smug grin as though she had predicted all along that I would mess it up.
Here’s my issue with baking recipes: they’re written in a slight code which is impossible to crack unless you’re part of the club. To be part of the club you have to bake a lot and slowly figure out what it all means. For example, in my recipe it prescribed a certain amount of water and said to add it gradually until the mixture was wet. However, nowhere did it mention that I didn’t have to use all of the water. I thought that if it told me a certain amount of water, then that’s the amount I have to use. Cue watery mixture flowing out of cake pan and me kicking up a massive fuss.
It’s the code that killed me. It’s like when I made cookies and the recipe said to combine the mixture by hand, so that’s what I did: used my hands. Only afterwards did Baking Queen inform me that I was meant to use a wooden spoon and by hand just means don’t use a machine to mix it. If that’s what it means, then why doesn’t it clearly say that? It’s like it wants me to fail.
I don’t bake cakes any more. We have a fairly good system at our house though: I’ll split the savoury cooking and Amanda smashes the desserts and sweet treats.
Next time my shoe drawer is in a mess I’m going straight to the florist.