I don’t bake.
That is, I don’t bake anymore.
When I left culinary school, it was largely because my pastry chef assured me that I could indeed, NOT, bake. Like, AT ALL.
So I left school, and I went to work for a coffee shop, where I went in each morning at 3:30 a.m. to work. And what did I do, you ask?
I f*cking baked. And that chef was WRONG because I was good at it.
But I never liked it one bit. The recipes and rules and precision of it all.
Keri. No. Likey.
I love to cook. To riff. To toss things in a pot and see what happens. My roast chicken coping method is the closest I come to a rule book, and that my friends, is an ART.
Baking is math. I hate math. (Sorry boss… I know you don’t like me to admit that.)
It’s just not me.
Except that now it is.
March 15th I had to do something. I looked across the room, at my son sitting on his tablet, content for the moment but concerned about what was then his “extended spring break,” and I needed action.
In the kitchen I had bananas. I had ancient flour in a good airtight container in the depths of the pantry. I had baking soda. I had mayo. (yep. Mayo. Google it.) And I had these dudes in my house who were just going to BE THERE like, for WHO KNOWS HOW LONG (ok… they are my family, and they live here, technically – but still…. WTF!?)
So I took out some stuff, and I took out my big ass mixing bowl that gets like, NO action, and I started baking.
I kind of haven’t stopped since those first banana muffins.
Because right now, in the face of absolute chaos, the rules of baking feel good.
I can follow a recipe and if I do it just as they say, it comes out just as it should.
We can’t say that about anything right now. You can follow everything they say and still end up sick, or jobless, or mourning or whatever other shitty thing might randomly dump on you.
Baking is control. In a time when we have no control.
Judging by the amount of #breadporn pics blowing up every time I open Instagram now, I am far from alone in this.
Incidentally, I have mad respect for the bread effort – it was very specifically what I think of as “the French bread incident” that finally drove me out the door of culinary school forever. So if you have bread skills, I salute you.
So I stick with what works. Goodness knows these boys can put away some muffins, and so there is a constant demand from the (albeit fairly captive) audience around The Casa.
Outside of my kitchen, the world, and sometimes even other parts of my house, are saturated in unpredictability. (Seriously, what the hell kind of art project/Tasmanian Devil impersonation is going on in my living room right now!?)
But back in the kitchen the warmth from the oven is making me feel toasty and safe, and the well-loved big ass mixing bowl now has a place of honor in the front of a convenient cabinet, ready to help me restore the order in my mind and in my soul – at 375 degrees, 18-20 minutes at a time.