For my 16th birthday, I was given some baking sheets, a sifter, a pastry cutter, and some other baking paraphernalia that eludes me right now. It was just about the most exciting gift I had received up to that point and it was simply because I was in the middle of my teenage baking kick and my life’s pleasure at that point was trying out new recipes. I remember making fantastic “healthy” nectarine yogurt muffins, and failing miserably at bread-making (which still plagues me). The baking urge died off, and fast forward 9 years later – I receive baking tools yet again. I am in the throws of passionate love with baking yet again and I was elated with this thoughtful present once more. The difference is I don’t think this enthusiasm is going to die soon. Armed with dozens of recipes from blogs, funds for better ingredients and baking equipment, and the support of so many friends, the flames are just being fanned and the new goal is to make something of this hobby.
Growing up, as is typical with many Chinese households, our oven served as more storage space for pots and pans (not baking pans of course). My grandmother didn’t bake, my mother didn’t bake, so my baking idol was probably Debbie Fields when the Food Network was still the TV Food Network. And when I finally did feel compelled to try recipes out on my own, I was faced with the reality that we had no baking supplies! No mixer, no measuring cups or spoons!
Somehow, probably through the cooking prowess of my older sisters, we eventually acquired the bare necessities for baking (a muffin pan, a wooden spoon, measuring devices) and debuted onto the baking scene with Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines. You have to start somewhere, right? And without any household guidance in that department, boxed mixes were excitement enough.
Luckily, my repertoire has moved beyond stirring eggs and oil into an artificially colored powdery substance (although even those were a great lesson in the importance of accurate oven temperatures), and I have no intentions of going back. I roam the blogosphere these days and so many recipes from Deb at smittenkitchen or Molly at Orangette are such revelations – I want to try them all!!! One day – and hopefully not too far in the future I will bake my sisters’ wedding cakes (although with our record, who knows!). And that will still only be the beginning.