The baking section is first to be fixed because I love to bake. Have you ever listened to the sound, pondered the motion of folding thrice sifted flour into the creamed butter, sugar and eggs? Sometimes there are too many gadgets.
It’s not like throwing together a stir fry or casserole and “letting the flavours combine”. There’s a level of precision and alchemy to baking that is enchanting … most of the time. It wasn’t very enchanting when I decided to surprise Mum with some biscuits.
Normally, a surprise is something you do out of the kindness of your heart, to say to someone they are special. Truth be told, it was probably me trying to show off, trying to impress, trying to look clever. Otherwise, when they failed so dismally, when they neither rose nor set nor turned a beautiful colour, why did I quickly clean up, hide all evidence as best a child could, wrap the offending results in newspaper and bury them in the garbage bin? I had sense not to sit them on top where they’d obviously be discovered. But it was a small kitchen bin. They were probably found.
My new baking section in the pantry is taking shape. I’ve rummaged around to find those glass jars family gave me for Christmas a few years ago. One’s a perfect size for castor sugar; the other for flour.
Where does this fit with Liveability?
This new year resolution is about finding worth. Four categories, of a sort, came to mind when thinking about how to organise my Year of Liveability:
- Unnecessary, Loose
- Unnecessary (to some) but Worthwhile (to me), Keep
- Necessary, Make it Worthwhile
- Lost but Worth Re-Instating
Baking is Lost but Worth Re-Instating. It wasn’t lost for long, just a couple of years, but there were some very out-of-date items in the pantry that needed replacing.
There are two very different reasons that draw me back to baking. First, there is health. I can manage both the sugar and fibre content. The store-bought items are loaded with too much sugar. Perhaps if I had false teeth, it wouldn’t sting so much.
I’ve started baking vegetable cakes again. They freeze well and defrost nicely for morning tea. Everything lands in the food processor. The result is very uniform. Even the walnuts. But the cake is very dark brown. The excessively pulverised vegetables have more surface area which results in excessive caramelisation.
Many many years ago, I grated and chopped by hand. The result was a textured delight, a blend of shades and a hint of orange and green. Perhaps a compromise is called for. I could use the food processor to grate the vegetables and then do the rest by hand. It would be healthier.
Second reason for getting back to baking is the opportunity to share.
In my youth, a social event finished with a High Tea or Supper; a long line of tables laden with country cooking. There were the obligatory sandwiches and savoury eggs, but it was the cream desserts that always beckoned.
I remember those long tables with such intensity that I was probably an embarrassing little pig on the day, scoffing down a variety of delights before going back for seconds, then thirds …
We cannot eat with such indulgence every day. All things in moderation, someone often says.
Yet, on those occasions when people gather, those special occasions, it is the rarity of such delights that makes the occasion more special by their inclusion.
The glass jars are filled, the baking trays are washed and four beautiful zucchinis from my brother-in-law’s garden are waiting in the fridge …