When reading certain baking blogs I often wonder how people can take themselves so seriously.
Arguably, I should A) fuck off back to reading about Art in the age of mechanical reproduction
and then discuss what it means to take yourself seriously/ re-classify what I think of as the appropriate forum for seriousness and B) steer clear of discussing sincerity on a blog of my own creation because dayum girl, that shit is meta and you are similarly self indulgent.
I could even, C) talk instead about the fact that the northbound Jubilee line is absolutely brimming with men who look like they have just got out of prison (it brims with crims perhaps?) and that today I was in a carriage with the following ‘characters’:
i. grim knife-wound man, eyes like a bulldog about to tear apart a delicious newborn child.
ii. sniffy fart man, who let rip upon sneezing. He did the latter every ten minutes.
iii. angry man, who could not understand why HE WAS NOT IN A SEAT.
How ever, I am nothing if not weak-willed and thus, steel yourselves, for here we go.
Sincerity and grim saccharine sweetness are apparently bedfellows. Perfectly excellent cooks can mar a recipe by deciding that, midway through instructing you to cream something, they break off and discuss deep love, the need to connect, the rustic charm of their kitchen or the universal quest for love.
The above is suitably cutesy to put you in the right mood.
I just wonder if baking really is about love? Baking is fascinating – who doesn’t love edibel science – and it calls for skills different from those employed in cooking. My sensitive palate (sneaky brag, sneaky brag, sneaky brag) is precisely bugger-all use during the baking process, whereas my risible lack of skill with scales is suddenly catastrophic.
Similarly, ‘cool’ substitutions don’t work either. Bananas will never be the same as egg, and granulated sugar has more in common with gravel than with caster sugar.
So yeah, baking is interesting. But it is also the pursuit of braggarts. Nothing is better recieved than a cake, even if the recipient is thinking ‘Oh look, you smug bitch, another dramatically iced eight-layer sponge to get through whilst I am trying to lose weight.’
Nothing is more smug making than having made something yourself. Even if nobody wants it and you have to force it down their ungrateful throats.
‘This? Oh, it was nothing – just a little something I whipped up over the last 72 hours.’
Baking is a way of saying that you are organised. Skilled. That you excel at things. That you are in touch with your coveted feminine side. That you are kind and considerate and have a sense of fun. That you could probably parent well. That you are generous and aware, Amelie-style, of life’s little pleasures. That you are wholesome and naughty. That you own cookery books and will maybe one day own an aga and a husband who works doing something vastly high-paid that does not encroach on his work-life balance and that allows him to be creative.
Forgive my cynicism. Perhaps baking is pure pleasure, golden love, and giving. For most people I am sure it is. But to co-opt the aesthetic of baking into a discourse of femininity, aspirational ownership, generosity and female achievement is weird. And rife.
I have little to know knowledge of how to radically re-possess baking, ridding it of all these connotations. Who knows if I even want to? They certainly don’t stop me baking – nor do they stop me feeling smug – nor do they even stop me using bananas instead of eggs, early grey tea instead of milk, and sometimes icing sugar instead of actual sugar.
Having rambled sufficiently, I am off to lie down. Feeling really quite grim at the moment – no idea why – and am self medicating with sleep and paracetemol.