I’ve never been much of a baker. It requires too much adherence to specific directions. Executing someone else’s instructions has never been my strong suit.
But a month or two ago, I started watching the Great British Bake Off. Something about the modesty of the contestants and the difficulty level of the various challenges gave me the feeling that maybe I *could* bake something kind of fancy…some strange, antiquated British dessert that involves jelly and rough puff pastry.
Having never attempted more than some oatmeal cookies or the occasional birthday cake, I had little appreciation for how hard it is to properly bake.
False sense of confidence + unforgiving chemistry = high failure rate
My first experiment, egg custard tarts, was pretty much a failure: soggy bottoms and curdled custard. I was pissed. I didn’t even take a picture.
But I kept trying. I’ve made several different cookies, tuiles, popovers, parmesan biscuits, and english muffins.
They weren’t all successful. Actually I’d say something went wrong with almost all of them. But I’m trying not to look at it as failure and a reason to beat myself up. Baking has become a safe way for me to try difficult stuff, have it go slightly (or mostly) wrong, with little consequence.
I have a habit of trying stuff that’s probably above my skill level (see: egg custard tarts), and then quitting if I can’t execute it properly. I usually don’t have a lot of patience for actually putting in the hard work. In my messed up brain I’m all, “Either I’m a natural at it or I won’t do it!” But I’m pushing myself to keep baking and continue to develop skills and techniques instead of expecting them to be there from day one. If, and when, I fail, it’s simply fewer calories for me to consume.
*Sorry about that title, I hate puns and I’m terrible at writing them.