03 February, 2013

Confessions of a Bake-a-holic




Baking has taken off hugely over the past few years and it makes a lot of sense that it has - it's like the crazier our world becomes, the more batter we need to whip up in order to stay sane. There's something so therapeutic about the simple processes of measuring, sifting, stirring, pouring, whisking and beating, followed by the satisfaction of having created something beautiful (and hopefully edible) out of a few basic ingredients. When I don my apron, grab my Mason Cash mixing bowl and conjure up all kinds of baked treats, it's a taste of the simple life and it brings me back down to earth after a busy week or a crazy weekend. Baking is grounding, while society changes all the time and the world grows in all kinds of directions, with baking you can go back to a pastime of our grandmothers grandmothers grandmothers grandmothers and it does us good to remember there is life beyond, or rather before, technology, Facebook, Instagram and Playstation.
Ironically, it's the child inside us, helping our Grandma stir the mix, but it's also the grown-up in us, able to appreciate simple things.

I first started baking in my early twenties, when cash was sparse, friends were far and I didn't feel too happy some of the time. I was still learning who I was and didn't know what to do with myself if I wasn't going out getting myself in all kinds of drunken pickles. It was only by coincidence that I also found baking helped to ground me and somehow in a funny way reinstate some self-confidence in me and in what my future should be. Talk about your self-raising flour!

Now it feels obvious to me that I was born to bake - being creative, messy and a food lover, what else would I do?! These days I can be found most weekends in my Cath Kidston apron, covered in flour, and sometimes during the week if I can find the time, which suits me and my cake-loving boyfriend/friends/colleagues down to the ground.. I don't see it as a chore, but as a way of just being quiet and content with something really quite humble. Let's face it, you don't need bright lights and fast cars when when you get a buzz off a batch of self-made muffins.

Over the past few years I have baked all sorts of fine and fancy treats, from giant cookies, cute cupcakes, shortbreads and muffins to layered caramel cakes, themed cakes, fruit cakes, seasonal cakes...but they're for another blog. Sometimes, though, I don't want to do anything fancy and just feel like flinging a really basic war-time style fruit cake in the oven in preparation for the re-introduction of rationing.

This weekend was a busier than usual for me, filled with girly nights out, pink fizz and a trip across the pennines. While I loved every second (and came away miraculously hangover free) I also love the downtime afterwards, getting my feet back on the ground after a crazy 48 hours - and this inevitably involves some baking. It's like the counteract to my unruly wine-drinking. If I can still bake a cake, then it's all going to be okay - 'I can still do life! Even after a litre of Prosseco!'

After a quick shower and unpack, I was straight in the kitchen and whipping up a recipe of my own. I have become more confident in adapting recipes and knowing what will work, and I fancied doing something a little bit different. The very basic mixed fruit and oat muffins definitely brought me back to my calm place and were given an extra twang by adding some Blueberry Yogurt. I also substituted some of the flour for oats as I want to try and pass these off to myself as 'healthy'...

Happy Sunday!

x

My Cash Mason mixing bowl was a gift from my Mum last year and it is quite literally my pride and joy. Red, big, gorgeous. £14.99 from Dunelm Mill.
These pretty scales were a Christmas present from my Boyfriend - baking with pretty things just makes it so much more fun and there is so much choice around these days. I personally love the powder/pastel ranges with the 50's vibe.
Before...
After! 30 minutes in the kitchen, job done.

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