Why do I bake?

Hello everyone!  Welcome to my brand-spankin’ new blog for Neufangled Desserts!

As it’s a new year, I thought I’d open up the blog by exploring the question, “Why do I bake?”

It’s a simple question, sure, but it opens up a whole realm of possibilities to me.  Baking is an expression of myself.  Baking involves time, exactitude, care, and commitment.  The end result is a gift I present to those I care about – and yes, this can even be for people I have just met, who ask me to bake things for them.  In a quiet, but wholly satisfying way, I am offering up my gifts in the kitchen and saying “here I am, this is what I offer to you… take your time, eat, and enjoy.”

Okay, I realize that this sounds incredibly deep, but let me engage your senses for a tiny bit.

When I bake, I like to put on a fresh pot of coffee.  I might play some classic jazz like Billie or Ella in the background, perhaps even a little Frank (Sinatra, of course).  There are creamy, light yellow sticks of unsalted butter coming to room temp on the counter.  Cracked eggs with bright gold yolks pooled in a glass bowl.  A jar full of delectable bittersweet chocolate chips inviting me to creatively fold them into a delicious batter.  The smell of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger permeate the air as I sift them through a powdery pillow of flour.

See what I mean?  It’s a win-win situation for all involved.  It’s a complete sensory experience for me as I bake for you, the recipient.  I absolutely love it.  Much like when I perform onstage, baking gives me the opportunity to build my own special cocoon and escape into a separate world for a couple hours or more.

Because it is so specific and exacting, this is not to say baking isn’t without its occasional trials.  Many a curse word has come sputtering out of my kitchen, and many a failed baked good ends up tumbling into a wastebasket.  At those times, I’ve had to take a deep breath, re-evaluate – and consider whether it’s worth giving that fantastic, but ultimately challenging recipe another go, or to simply reject it as a dismal failure and move on.  Baking is a learning process, and if there is anything this year that I want to teach myself, it’s this:  BE PATIENT.  Don’t expect PERFECTION on the first trial run.  Indeed, at times baking is not for the faint of heart.

I still adore it.  It’s a big part of what I do with this life I have been given, and my sincere hope this year is that I can begin to share my baking adventures here with you, my friends, on this blog.  I would like to share my successes with you, as well as my failures… with the goal of learning as I go.  I accept suggestions from you seasoned bakers out there.  I continue my quest for finally mastering the art of a perfect chocolate chip cookie and therefore accept any and ALL suggestions on that quest (I will not, however, pester you to divulge treasured recipes for said chocolate chip cookie… um, that is, unless you would care to share).

So, for now, I invite you to come and join me in my apartment kitchen as I begin my 2012 kitchen explorations, with recipes old and new.  Thank you for your indulgence, and most of all, a HAPPY and BLESSED New Year 2012 to all of you.  May there be many delectable baked goods offered to you this year (it’s okay to cheat on that dieting resolution once in while)!