My relationship with baking has developed into a great love over the course of my life.
I have always been known as one with a sweet tooth. My father’s family have a sweet tooth and I am my father’s daughter in so many ways. You could say I was born to make cakes.
My favourite grandparent was my father’s mother, my Grandma. Jean Winney was beautiful, elegant, talented, intelligent and spirited. I loved hearing her talk about when she would exercise race horses on the moors when she was a young woman, or how much she enjoyed being a dentists assistant during the war. I imagine that if Grandma had been born in a later generation she would have probably been quite an independent, adventurous woman, but we shall never know… One thing is for sure, she could bake. And I’m fairly certain my first baking lesson will have been from Grandma – I can still remember placing wings on freshly iced fairy cakes at my Grandma’s house and the fuss we would all make at Christmas when she brought out her chocolate roulade.
Our home wasn’t one that always had fresh baking in the cupboards, but when mum did desserts they were always amazing. And I’ve already told you about the M&S snowballs on Friday nights.
Much like cooking I think it was when I got married and had my own kitchen that baking became something I started to explore. And it’s probably since having children that I have really found my heart connection with the art of baking.
I recently read the book, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh and would highly recommend it. As I was thinking about writing this blog the book came to my mind. The main character of the book is a troubled soul, with an extremely tough childhood who along the way is taught what was known in Victorian times as the ‘language of flowers’. It is her saviour in many ways, as she discovers she has a natural affinity for it and it essentially pulls her away from a life of hardship and isolation.
I don’t think that baking is saving me, but I can see how, in many ways, it is a therapy for me, it brings me peace and joy and I feel very much myself when I bake. For the first time since University I find myself wanting to learn more on a subject, I want to research, practice, succeed and even fail, because don’t we learn most from our failures?
I see how it is a type of language, or communication for me. When a friend is sad, I bring cake. When my children have a birthday I want to give them the perfect cake. When I’m spending time with my girlfriends I want to treat them to something sweet. When my husband has had a long day at the office, I like to pass him a tin of something fresh and tasty. I bake to show I care. It is a mix of two of my top love languages, an act of service and a gift.
I love to see how something baked, can change things. Cakes can literally lift morale in an office. It gathers people around when there is something to celebrate. Dessert makes a meal feel special, even decadent. A home baked cookie in a packed lunch feels like treasure. A slice of cake on a night in at home feels naughty, and nice. Someone’s favourite cake or one made especially for them makes them feel spoilt, like we all should feel sometimes. Cake can communicate so much.
I realise that the two things that I have recently discovered I love so much, writing and baking, are both forms of communication. If I could spend my days doing both, I think I would be a happy girl.