When I gather ingredients; sugar, butter, flour and eggs, to bake I am fairly confident that the alchemy I perform will yield yummy results. The thousands of hours I have put in baking, the reading I have done, the classes I have taken, all contribute to a sense that I know what I am doing. The basic ingredients themselves are delicious so how can I go wrong? Chocolate Chip cake with Mocha frosting tastes like it sounds, slightly decadent with an undertone of coffee and a desire to slice another piece. The perfect birthday cake for my twin sons.
What I do best is cookies and muffins and simple cakes. I add blueberries where none were called for. Potato chips find their way into a cookie recipe for an extra zing of salt. I bake for family and friends and occasions. For days searching through cookbooks, searching web sites and blogs, going through ideas in my head; trying to find the perfect combination of flavors that reflect the person I love.
Carrot cake is Carol’s favorite. Every birthday I make her a variation. Sometimes it has maple cream cheese frosting. Sometimes it is in cupcake form. Sometimes carrot cake morphs into morning glory muffins. This year, as with many things I went in a different direction. I happened across a Melissa Clark Crumb Cake Muffin that tasted like the ultimate Brooklyn coffee cake. I made them for her and received the sweetest thank you note in return.
My Dad loves my homemade granola and has eaten it for breakfast every morning for decades. He lives in Massachusetts and I live in Connecticut, so delivery is via the post office. Once a month he calls to say.
“L, do you have any granola you can send me?”
Mostly, I don’t. My kids and husband love it, as do several good friends. So, it is eaten as fast as I make it. I pull out my huge mixing bowl and make a double batch. I fill my Dad’s box with additional homemade cookies or muffins and articles I have collected for him. Off the care package goes and I feel like I am sending my love and supporting both him and the postal service.
They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. When I was dating my husband, my baking didn’t hurt the advancement of our relationship. We had been dating a month when his birthday coincided with Super Bowl Weekend. I made The Silver Palate Cookbook’s Chocolate Chocolate Layer Cake. We took the cake over to his parent’s apartment where we were watching the game and I met his opinionated French Great Aunt for the first time. She tasted the cake.
“My birthday is August 16th. When it comes, you can make me one.”
She and I were fast friends from that moment on. As the matriarch of the family, it was a seal of approval that did not hurt.
Long before pandemic baking became a thing, I baked. The routine of mixing and creating is soothing. The smells emanating from the hot oven fill the house with goodness and warmth and love. Baking is an activity that brings me joy. If I can spread this, I am even happier. And if this isn’t love, what is?