By Gillian Adams
As a keen homebaker, I have long enjoyed expressing love and gratitude through food. It seems so much easier to show someone how much they mean to you, or letting them see your appreciation or thanks by putting your time, effort and skills into preparing something that you hope other people will enjoy too. I’ve baked for friends, family, romantic interests and work colleagues. And sometimes even just for myself!
And I doubt that there are many people who would say that they prefer a shop bought cake to a homemade one – it just tastes so different. It would also be unheard of for me to serve up a cake which came from a production line, rather than a perfectly imperfect one from my own kitchen. In fact, there might be one or two raised eyebrows from other people now too, as they have come to expect a homemade offering.
I grew up learning how to bake at my mother’s side, observing the care and precision as she carefully measured out each ingredient, and made sure each bake was just right. If it wasn’t right, then she wasn’t happy. And she was often asked to provide baking for family events, sugar dusted butterfly cakes for birthday teas…dark, sombre fruit loaf for funeral teas.
As I got older, I felt the same glow of pride when someone appreciated something I had carefully prepared for them too. And I loved the planning and preparation as high days and holidays came around – it was my way of expressing how important people were, without having to say it out loud.
But along with it comes the frustration and feelings of almost helplessness when things go wrong. I remember struggling to work sugar into caramel for a peanut brittle to top a birthday cheesecake, and felt the heat rise in me as I watched it continually burn. And the numerous tearful attempts at trying to make perfect pancakes for my stepdaughter on our first Shrove Tuesday, and feeling like I was failing at everything because they wouldn’t go right.
I’m guessing that anyone who has a passion for baking feels the same at times. Its rarely that you do bake for yourself – there is always an element of service in there somewhere. And they say that baking is just a science, an alchemy of accurately followed instructions, and weighing and measuring. But you can certainly tell when a cake has been made with love and when it’s been rushed – and I happen to think that has been a fairly good metaphor for life too.
Guest Writer: Gillian Adams is the Founder of ‘Start a Little Fire’ blog, and is a passionate advocate for lifelong learning and development. She believes that a life well lived is one which encourages all of those things which spark something in us, and which makes us unique. She enjoys baking for relaxation, and to show love and gratitude to those who are important to her.
How do you find her: On Instagram as StartaLittleFire
Soul Food September:
Throughout September, Soulhub is sharing personal stories from Guest Writers including Nutritionalist (Author of Gut Gastronomy, Broth & Amazing Edible Seeds) Vicki Edgson, Soul Food Live on Tuesdays later in the month with Carey Davies-Munro, Q&A’s with nutritional specialists Sue Camp & Melinda McDougall, podcasts with Nicola Moore, and education about our relationship with food.
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