For as long as I can remember, I have loved to bake. And I don’t mean this just in a figurative sense, either. The very first memory that I can recall is from a long-ago June day when I was two and a half. I remember standing on a chair in my parents’ kitchen helping my mom make chocolate chip cookies, listening carefully as she taught me how to select and add the ingredients to the mixing bowl. As if it were yesterday, I can still clearly remember peering into the bowl, mesmerized as the ingredients were transformed before my eyes into a delicious, gooey dough. I also recall frequently jumping down off my chair and running into the living room to check on my brand-new baby brother, who was fast asleep, oblivious to the wonderful scents and sounds emanating from the kitchen. It’s no surprise that this is my first memory; baking and family have always been two of the most important things in my life (although perhaps not in that order!)
This was the first of many, many memories that I have of baking with my mother. Although my family moved several times growing up, my mom always made sure to have an area in her kitchen reserved entirely for baking. This was important because we baked A LOT. There was never any shortage of the most delicious cookies, breads, pies, and cakes in our house.
Baking has always been more than just a hobby for me. It’s an almost therapeutic activity. While I often bake when I’m happy, I also bake when I’m stressed… or bored… or sad… or pretty much anything else for that matter. Growing up, my mom and I even had a name for such therapeutic baking. While she is one of the most talented bakers I’ve ever met, my mom also has- by her own admission- absolutely abysmal penmanship. She keeps her ingredients in labeled bins in her baking area. Most are more-or-less legible, but for the majority of my childhood, the label on the flour container read “All-Yurpose.” I always got a kick out of this, and baking days became known as “All Yurpose Days.” Whenever we needed a pick-me-up, we always knew it was time to have an All-Yurpose Day. Quite frankly, I find it impossible to be unhappy when you are baking:)
In the years since my first toddler baking experience, I’ve devoted much of my life to academia. I’ve always loved learning and never could quite figure out how to stop going to school. I stuck around for college… and then for graduate school… and then for graduate school again. Crazy, I know! Throughout all my 25 years of school there were a LOT of All-Yurpose Days for much needed stress-relief. Being an academic (first as a student and now as a new assistant professor) also doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for artistic expression. And so baking now serves a new therapeutic purpose for me. It allows me to be creative, to try new things, to experiment with decorating, and to challenge myself to make things both taste good and look pretty.
I decided to write this blog for a number of reasons. The first of which, I admit, is entirely selfish. I am always losing recipes and wanted a way to keep track of all the recipes I’ve tried and/or adapted. As I start to experiment more with cake-decorating, I also wanted a place to keep all my photos together. On a less selfish note, I also want to use this as a means to share my creations with my friends and family- many of whom have been requesting a blog for quite some time. Finally if it inspires even a couple new bakers out there, I’d call that a big success:) The world can never have too much bakery!
Thanks for reading!
-Professor of Chocolate