Baking

I’m only working part-time at the moment and my work is just a half-hour’s walk from my house so I have what feels like the most free time since I was in kindergarden, these days. I do things like go for swims in my new, highly supportive and highly unflattering one-piece togs and get documents notarized—because you know what happens when your mom dies, among other things? Paperwork happens, is what happens—and get my hair cut and go to band practice and go to the store and make dinner and read books. Last Friday a friend texted to tell me she was in the neighbourhood and was I home and I would I like a cup of tea? I was and I did, with a great sense of luxury. Mid-afternoon, mid-Friday tea! It can’t last forever, this semi-slacker lifestyle, but I’m enjoying it while it does.

I’m using some of the extra time to bake, usually cakes and cookies, about a recipe a week. This past week I made these
Mexican chocolate-chili-and-cinnamon things
, which were very easy, and a batch of these jammy-shortbready things (half with plum jam and half with grapefruit-orange marmalade). I brought a box of simple yet super-awesome oatmeal raisin cookies and a box of chocolate-cranberry and lemon-poppyseed to Golden Bay last month. I am wary of anything that needs to rise, but lo and behold there’s a little container of yeast in my pantry as we speak, because for some reason I have got it in my head that I am going to make my own hot cross buns this year. Maybe I’ll make a focaccia one of these days, who knows.

It’s not a project or anything, like I don’t have big goals about learning to make a pâté briseé or even a layer cake. I’m not trying to bake a new cupcake flavor a week. I just like making yummy things, in my tiny and poorly-laid-out galley kitchen with its late afternoon sun, listening to music sometimes. I have a little hand mixer for eggs whites and stuff, but since I have neither the budget nor the space for a big sexy stand mixer, I do everything else with a wooden spoon and a fork and baking sheets and parchment paper and silicone spatulas and a lemon zester and wire racks and the oven.

It’s calming, I guess. So much of my life in general is about talking and feeling and thinking, about asking questions that have either too many answers or no answer whatsoever. I do so much explaining and expounding and expecting. I do so much reading of subtitles that may not actally exist, so much raising my eyebrows and cocking my head with a puzzled half-smile. I do so much sighing. I still furrow my brows when I’m up to my elbows in butter and flour, it’s true, but it’s all very clear, what I’m meant to be doing: I just follow the recipe, the one that I have copied out in my own handwriting, right there on the page. I take a bunch of raw ingredients out of my pantry and put them on the counter, and then after a couple of hours I eat them. I make a thing. I do something.

It’s amazing, what a difference it makes.

4 comments

  1. Do not fear the yeast! Treat it as a friend and it will return the favor. Hot cross buns are in your near future!

  2. http://www.alexandracooks.com/2012/11/07/my-mothers-peasant-bread-the-best-easiest-bread-you-will-ever-make/

    make this. i was afraid of the yeasts but it’s super easy and VERY tasty. i make it in a loaf pan because i don’t own pyrex bowls.

    also it leaves you enough time to make OTHER things between the stages. Or, you know, laze about. :)

  3. Those cookies at Golden Bay were fabulous — trust ’em to be from Smitten Kitchen! And once I’m done with this stupid 4-week-long Slow Carb diet, I’m back into the baking.

    Good on you for relaxing and creating.

  4. Nomie (@anachronistique)

    It’s so good, to get our hands into something, to make something. To not think beyond the next ten minutes or twenty minutes or hour-long rise, to feel and taste and weigh and measure and sniff the air in case something’s burning.

    I need to get cooling racks.