Friday, March 27, 2015

SOLC 2015 Day 27: Flour

I haven't indulged in one of my favorite activities in awhile, and I'm feeling a bit glum.

When I have the time, I really enjoy baking.  Something about focusing on a recipe, mixing dough and batter, dropping it or rolling it out or filling my fancy Bundt pans to make cookies and cakes to share makes me happy.  If left alone in the kitchen to bake, I can almost enter a zen state, moving through the triangle of counter-oven-cooling racks.

My mother was a baker, especially around the holidays.  She would bake all kinds of cookies, and they became hostess gifts, party goodies, and treats for unmarried soldiers in my father's unit to ease their homesickness.  I have friends who fondly remember certain cookies she made, will ask if I've baked any lately.

I picked up the habit after college.  My baking season lasted August through May, with an occasional firing up of the oven during the sweltering Texas summer months if an event called for it.  Cookies for my school colleagues and children's teachers, cakes for birthdays, special cut-outs to say thank you to the crossing guards at Thanksgiving.

And then there was Christmas time.  In a really organized year, I start making the chilled dough the weekend after Thanksgiving, and bake each week through New Year's.  My holiday season record is 1500 cookies.  They went to neighbors, friends, teachers, and shipped to faraway relatives.

Over the last few years, for various reasons, the number of batches have dwindled down to a paltry few.  I didn't even make cutout gingerboys or sugar cookies with royal icing this past year, and they have always, always been Christmas staples.  No heart cookies on Valentine's Day, and St. Patrick's Day went by without the orange zest-with-mint-icing shamrocks.

At Easter, I will make an effort to bake my usual lemon pound cake in the rose-shaped Bundt pan (the yellow rose of Texas!) with homemade lemon curd.  Maybe I'll pull out the egg-shaped cookie cutter, whip up a batch of royal icing, and we'll have cookies instead of hard-boiled eggs, since my family doesn't eat many of the latter.

Maybe for a few moments, I'll find that zen state again in the golden triangle in our small galley kitchen.


  1. Those look delicious. I am not much of a bakery or sweets person. But the zen of baking, I get. I used to bake loaf of bread after loaf. It is such an art and so helpful for letting the mind wander. After being diagnosed with Celiacs, I sort of lost my interest. Maybe one day I'll make gluten free loaves instead! Lemon pound cake is right up my alley.

    1. I think my predisposition to diabetes lurks at the back of my mind, too. Also, with one child in college and another in high school, the baking needs are not what they used to be. I have baked a loaf of bread here and there, but not enough to hone expertise in kneading and knowing the right "feel" for the dough.

  2. I was already loving your post and then I saw the pictures--wow! I'm envious of your talent! Baking is such a calming, warm activity. I call myself a Stress Baker--I almost always find myself in the kitchen, up to my elbows in cookie dough, anytime I have something stressful going on in my life. My kids are too little (1 and 3) right now for me to have much time, but I aspire to bake like you as soon as they are a bit older. Thanks for sharing this post!

    1. I happy to know someone else finds it a calming activity, too! You will certainly find a bit more time when your little ones become school-aged and not so mommy-centric. Then they'll be asking for more cookies, too. ;-) My daughter is now finding the joy of cooking and baking in college. For the last several years, both of my children have baked our annual Christmas birthday-cake-for-Jesus on their own, deciding on the flavor, decorations, and number of candles--one less baking duty for mom.