Colin Cadle Photography
"Baking day" might sound terribly old-fashioned, but perhaps it’s exactly what we need to get centered and grounded after a week in the modern world. Kneading bread dough, measuring, mixing and then letting the heavenly scent of fresh bread or homemade cake waft through your home are simple pleasures not to be missed. These ideas will hopefully get you excited to roll up your sleeves and dive into a baking project this week.
The lovely bakery down the street from my house turns out far more luxurious and professional pastries, muffins and sandwich loaves than I ever will, yet I still enjoy making the effort to bake at home from time to time. If you give baking a chance, you will likely find your own reasons to love it — for me, it’s all about the process: putting the kitchen to good use, getting my hands coated in flour, measuring, stirring, kneading and (best of all) sitting back while the intoxicating scent of baking bread fills the entire house. It’s a deeply satisfying, all-is-well-in-the-world sort of feeling that screen-based entertainment simply cannot match.
How To Conquer a Fear of Baking
I’ll admit it: Baking is scary if you haven’t done much of it before. Especially baking with yeast. It might be helpful for your first attempts to think of it not as a cooking project, but as an experiment. Don’t worry about the end product (though chances are, it will be just fine); instead, focus on enjoying a new experience. Of course, there’s no need to ever bake yeast bread at home if that’s not your cup of tea. Try muffins, biscuits or quick breads instead — they make the house smell just as good, and they are beginner friendly.
Baking Day Ideas
Seeking out delightful recipes to use on baking day can become a fun activity in its own right. You could set out to master some of the classics (white bread, a country loaf, tender biscuits) or just pick recipes that strike your fancy. You can also use your baking-day creation to round out a simple dinner, like homemade bread or savory scones with soup, or homemade bread sticks with a big salad. If you prefer sweets, there is a whole world of cakes, cupcakes and chocolate confections to explore.
Set Up Your Kitchen For Baking
It doesn’t take much equipment to bake at home, no matter what those glossy catalogs dropped in your mailbox may claim. People have been baking all sorts of goodies since time immemorial, without the aid of a standing mixer or food processor. That said, if you do own these items, by all means dust them off and put them to work! The essentials, though, include liquid and dry measuring cups, measuring spoons, wooden spoons, a cutting board, a bowl scraper, a pastry cutter and a few baking sheets and pans. Anything else is icing.
Try a Little Mise en Place Action. This French term simply means “to put in place” — in other words, get everything you will need for your cooking project prepped and ready before you begin. Scrub your counters, empty your sink, check the recipe, gather ingredients and pull out all of the necessary tools and measuring devices. A bit of preparation can prevent catastrophe; you don’t want to realize halfway into your recipe that you are out of eggs.
What to Do While The Bread Is in the Oven
Ah, this is the best part. The bread (or cake or muffins) is in the oven, you’ve gotten a start on the dishes, and heavenly smells are beginning to drift from the kitchen. Now is the time to pour yourself a cup of something yummy to drink, and recline in a comfortable chair while you congratulate yourself for being a domestic god or goddess. An overstuffed armchair in the kitchen would make an ideal spot, but any comfortable chair within smelling distance of the oven will do nicely.
Sharing Baked Goods With Friends and Neighbors
What’s better than freshly baked bread? Sharing it with someone dear to you, of course! Invite friends and family over to sample your latest creation, or hand deliver a freshly baked basket of goodness to a neighbor, friend or relative who could use cheering up.
Finding Time to Bake
If you think of baking as a recreational activity, rather than a chore (like getting dinner on the table or vacuuming), it’s much easier to find opportunities to bust out the flour. Take advantage of a rainy Saturday by baking up a few loaves of bread or trays of muffins — it’s so much more satisfying than zoning out in front of the TV!