"If baking is any labor at all, it's a labor of love." -Regina Brett
Friday night, while you were fast asleep, I made these peanut butter cookies from Half-Baked Harvest. I highly enjoyed making them, and my family is more than happy to eat them.
I've always loved to cook, but I don't always love to bake.
They're quite different for me.
Cooking is necessity. Soups and stews, casseroles and roasts. It's the daily routine of pulling out of my hat every single evening a meal that is:
flavorful and interesting,
and likely to pass muster with the diners whom I serve.
Baking is for fun. Pies and cookies, cakes and puddings. It is the cherry on the top of the family meal cake:
special and satisfying,
a festive indulgence,
and likely to bring a smile to anyone who takes a bite..
Logic might dictate that my preferences should be reversed. Cooking daily meals can be an awful grind, whereas baking brings joy and indulgence and a lovely bit of sweetness into our ordinary lives.
But I love the rough and tumble of cooking, the constant challenge to turn the same handful of ingredients into something that feels fresh and new, the give-and-take of cooking methods that allow me to substitute this ingredient, leave out that one, and change the traditional order of the steps whensover I may please. While skill and experience are definitely part of the process, cooking allows me to experiment and improvise, and I love that flexibility.
Baking requires much more precision. The chemistry required to make a cake rise or a pudding thicken is not to be tampered with, and then there's the delicate temperament of hand-rolled pie dough. While I'm comfortable whipping up most confections, and have logged long hours with rolling pins and parchment paper, baking requires patience, dexterity, and a fine attention to detail that sometimes wears me out.
Lately, though, I've surprised myself by rediscovering the fun of baking.
Oh, I still love cooking, and continue to try new recipes and whip up family classics on the regular. My passion for an interesting evening meal rages on.
But I'm enjoying my reborn sweet spot for baking. It is, in simplest terms, an unnecessary labor of love, and perhaps that reason alone that explains why baking is pure magic.