Baking to many may seem a tall order or an old-fashioned task. But perhaps it is needed to wind down after such an intensive week at Lagos Business School (LBS). The thought of the heavenly scent of freshly baked pies, cakes, or homemade bread wafting through your home is one simple pleasure to look forward to.
So Why Bake?
I am pretty sure that was your next question. After all, there are numerous bakeries down the road capable of getting one to the desired utopia. Well, you are right, but baking has many benefits that are often overlooked.
Baking supports mental and emotional health. The basic act of kneading the dough is relaxing, calming, and helps reduce anxiety. It is akin to squeezing a stress ball. According to psychologists, baking keeps one focussed and engaged. It triggers our sense of smell, touch, taste, and sight.
Research suggests that during the coronavirus lockdown period, many turned to cooking and baking. I certainly did! During such an uncertain time, baking was a good distraction and served as a great family bonding time too. My kids were super excited to try different recipes and thoroughly enjoyed taking on different roles- kneading, rolling, measuring, and of course, cleaning up. For me, it is the deeply rewarding feeling that comes with the finished product. Little wonder stressed spelled backward is desserts! More so, if you give baking a chance, you may find other reasons to love it. A good start is to defeat the fear of baking.
Conquering the fear of Baking
It is completely normal to have a phobia of baking. The sheer thought of the recipe book listing the lengthy process of preheating the oven, measuring, and preparing can turn one-off. Needless to say, the fear of the experiment becoming a disaster is real. Instead, focus on the new experience and decide to have fun while at it.
It is helpful to start with simple recipes such as muffins, biscuits, and basic cakes. Working with yeasts (mostly in bread recipes) can be tricky, so it is best left till you are more confident. This is the time to be practical not imaginative. As a beginner, it is completely normal to make mistakes. So, don’t be afraid. Like learning to ride a bicycle, despite falling off the pedals several times, we continue and eventually get better. That’s the same spirit required in baking, the more recipes you try to better you become. The basic rules discussed in the next part of this article could help kick start the baker in you.
Some basic rules for beginners
As a rule of thumb start with researching everything from the recipe to the availability of ingredients in your neighbourhood store. Once you understand the task it becomes easier to plan and succeed. So, here are 5 basic rules:
- Prepare in advance. Make sure all utensils- measuring spoons, cups, bowls, and mixers are ready and clean. Measure all ingredients and recheck before mixing.
- Check your ingredients. A very important step in preparing for baking. It can be discouraging if you find you are out of flour at the tail end of the process.
- Follow the instructions in the recipe. It is better to follow the recipe step by step. When you have tried it several times, you will become more confident to experiment.
- Preheat your oven. Possibly rule No. 1! Never bake anything without preheating your oven to the recommended temperature as stated in the recipe. It is just will not bake well. Our Nigerian ovens can be very challenging here. However, the key is to study your oven which comes with continuous practice. You could also try the oven thermometers- sold in many local supermarkets.
- Just have fun. This is the best recipe for conquering the fear of baking. Enjoy!
Finally, sharing is caring. Do not miss this opportunity to put a smile on someone’s face. Make sure to share your simple pleasures with friends and family.