Friday, May 3, 2013

The Side Dish: For the Love of Baking

There's certain stillness to baking.

To combining ingredients with the perfect combination of precision and patience, creating something whole from so many fragmented parts. To having something that - no matter what - it will always yield the same results.

My boyfriend will gladly attest to my somewhat, um, exacting nature. I can be uptight and neurotic as hell, and I correct things all the time. But I swear I have a good reason: in my day job as a writer, there's little room for error. Words are placed with precision. And when used correctly, their order and meaning demands things from us. Whether it's our attention, our humanity, or something else entirely, it certainly isn't haphazard. And from a pile of words - and we have dictionaries full of thousands of them - we create something meaningful and connecting; we create something we can share in.

Baking, really, isn't so different to me. There’s an incredible and powerful science and art behind baking, from the amazing marriage between basic chemical reactions that create our treats and the beautiful creations we turn it into.

Flour, butter, sugar, leaveners: these make cake. But we make more than just cake when we combine them. When we bake we resurface memories, whether it’s licking sweet frosting from beaters snuck from the bowl when Mom wasn’t watching, waking up with sleep-filled eyes to the smell of cinnamon from fresh baked rolls, or that amazing dessert from the best first date, perfectly recreated. We connect with others - our neighbours, families, and friends. And we create, unleashing imagination on one very tasty canvas.

Of course, I bake for other reasons, too, like having difficult food allergies. I bake because I’m concerned about ingredients, additives, and dyes. I bake to save money. And I bake because I love to brighten people's days with cookies and other treats.

But it all comes back to that stillness. That calm. That serenity that washes over me as I knead dough and shape it into something that, very soon, will become something so much more.


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