I’m not a great baker by any stretch of imagination; I don’t know how anyone could really stake such a claim when shows like “The Great British Baking Show” exist. (If you haven’t watched the show yet, you have something to do in your free time now – it’s fantastic!). However, when I do exercise my baking wits, I find that the most enjoyable part of baking above sampling my own creation, beyond taking pictures of the final product, is the solitude that comes with the effort. From my experience, it’s held true that people enjoy baking together; the camaraderie, the division of labor, the shared memories – something about it really brings people together, apparently. This is not to say that I prefer to be a baking hermit. I think that baking with friends, especially friends who are more experienced, always proves to be a tremendous learning opportunity as well as a time to have fellowship and literally break bread.
However, something about being alone when I’m preparing ingredients calms the inward storms I face. The way I prepare my butter to be mixed, how I keep my eyes level on the “one cup” line, and the various idiosyncrasies that come with a novice baker’s “feel” – all of these things thread themselves together in a composition of unrevealed artistry. While they might not be the best methods nor the most efficient, the connection that develops during the entire process of baking can only be summarized as catharsis. Depending on my mood, my thoughts, my experiences, it can feel as if the baking process takes years, or it can take minutes. The preparation of the ingredients allows me to gather my thoughts; it prepares me for the mixing of the ingredients. When I pour in the dry with the weight, I like to do it in thirds; how I feel at the beginning, middle, and end of whatever circumstances I’m going through. At the end of it all, I’ll think about how I want to deviate from the recipe. An odd pastime of mine developed from writing countless persuasive essays is finding skewed facets from which to view the world, and the same philosophy holds for my baking procedure. I never want to conform to what has been previously established because distinction engenders innovation. And whether or not the finished product is glass grade is besides the point; the point is that it’s art (thanks Pinkman). Whatever I’ve baked has been put in an oven with my sadness, my stress, and my pain. Yet how fitting is it that out of the bitterness comes something sweet? Life is just one prolonged bake, after all; we start raw, become mixed in with the chaos of this world, and are exposed to heat until we arrive where we need to be, and that’s all. And so, I bake to place my mind where my heart does not wish to be so that my tears might season the souls of all who taste and see.