People who love to bake love more than simply baked goods. I mean, of course we like the baked goods—we’re not soulless automata, after all—but most of us enjoy the process of baking just as much as the rich, chocolately, caramel-y, chewy goodies we get at the end of it. Baking isn’t only a means to a (tasty, sugary) end: Through baking, we commit to taking a few moments away from the push and pull of everyday life to make something indulgent and sweet. It’s an act that can be meditative and centering—and sometimes it feels like the only thing that’s keeping me from going right off the deep end.
We all have things that we do to keep ourselves sane when life insists on going crazy—simple, productive tasks that make us feel like we’re in control and that give us the space we need to think and breathe. Some people knit, some people do crossword puzzles, some people clean, some people run (but why??), some people build tiny Barbie furniture. I bake. There’s something about the process of measuring, sifting, kneading, and rolling that immediately makes me feel calmer, happier, and just a little more ready to face whatever lies ahead of me. If you’re a baker, you may recognize these important times when baking helps you keep it together:
1. When you are just so, so pissed
When you feel yourself overwhelmed with anger, baking bread from scratch can be an extremely handy way to keep yourself from killing someone. You can pour your fury into the very physical process of kneading the dough—as you’re pulling and pushing the pieces together, you’re free to imagine the very satisfying prospect of wringing somebody's neck.
2. When you’re feeling unproductive
When you’re full of angst because you feel like you never get anything accomplished, take some time to bake something simple. Producing something that is real and tangible (and edible!) will remind you that you have the capacity to put forth great things out into the world.
3. When life seems out of control
When life seems to be spinning beyond your control, baking can seem like a safe port in the storm. You may not have control over much in your life, but you get decide how many chocolate chips are going in this dough, dammit.
4. When you need to treat yo self
When you feel like you’re being pulled in every direction by the demands of other people, take the time to bake something for yourself, something rich and impractical that’s only for you.
5. When someone you love is going through a tough time, and you can’t do anything to fix it
One of life’s hardest moments is when a loved one is going through something awful, and there is nothing you can do to solve the problem. So you bake for that person. It's what you can do. You can feed them. You can give them a tiny sugar rush that, although momentary, will give them a brief respite from what they're going through. What you make will be a tangible expression of your love and support, which are, after all, the most important things you can offer.
6. When everything feels haphazard and rushed
When you’re life seems to be going too fast, step back and bake something that takes detailed, methodical work, like rolling out down for cookies or carefully piping icing. It will make everything slow down, at least for a little while.
7. When you’re tired to compromising what you want to make others happy
Compromise is an essential component of getting along with people, but it can also be exhausting. When you bake something from scratch, you get to decide exactly how you want it. Your coworkers hate coconut? Screw ‘em! You’re going to make the coconuttiest cookies ever because that’s how you like it.
8. When you really need to think about something
When you need time to ruminate over a question, bake something you’ve made a hundred times before, something that will keep your hands busy while your mind works through the problem.
9. When you don’t want to think about something
When you find yourself obsessing needlessly over an issue, running the same anxious thoughts through your head over and over and over, bake something new and complicated. The recipe will require your full concentration, and will pull your thoughts out of their obsessive death spiral.
Images: A Pastry Affair; Giphy (5)