Expressing Your Creativity in the Kitchen
The craziest thing about creating something is that, for a moment, you have a taste of what it might be like to step into God’s shoes. Cooking and baking really allow to you reflect on creation itself. In a small sense, God has given you the ability to create food and confectionaries to the nourishment of your own body. He has given you the ability to be self-sustaining, and that’s pretty cool, don’t you think?
Even cooler still is the fact that food isn’t only used for self-sustaining, but for self-expression, too. Have you ever whipped up your own Valentine’s Day chocolate for a boy you like? Have you seen cooking shows where chefs create elaborately decorated cakes and cookies that almost look too amazing to eat? Have you ever thought, “Wow- cakes sure are expensive. Should I bake my own birthday cake this year?”
Perhaps you’ve just had a hard day at school and needed a way to relieve some stress. Maybe you’re going through a tough break up and need to release some of that pint-up sadness, anger or anxiety. You might even just want to work with a creative medium that you haven’t worked with yet. Whatever your reason it’s enough to give baking a try!
What to Bake?
One of the hardest things about baking is figuring out what you want to make. What’s your favorite type of cake or cookie? Have you always been curious about what panna cotta or flaming Alaskas taste like? Have you ever wondered how bakeries make macaroons? Baking is a great way to really appreciate the food you put in your mouth, and to discover new delicious treats!
Eggs, flour, sugar and butter are almost always needed to bake anything you could ever want. Sometimes, you’ll find a few odd ingredients like coconut oil, buttermilk, almond meal, gelatin and ginger root, so you’ll need to run to the store. Finding these strange ingredients is a little adventure all on its own! Once you have your recipe and all of your supplies, you’re ready to start baking.
Let’s Get Cracking!
You may discover that baking can become pretty technical at times, but it’s all a part of the experience! Some recipes require mixing ingredients on the stovetop in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling hot water; others require you to mix ingredients to a certain consistency before adding additional ingredients. When baking, it’s uncommon to just toss things into a bowl, mix them together, put it in a greased pan and throw it in the oven for thirty minutes.
Another matter to remember when you’re baking is not to forget to experiment a little. Do you feel like you want to add some almond and vanilla extract to the bowl of whipped cream you just whipped together to frost your cake? Go for it! Want to toss some diced walnuts into the bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough you just stirred up? By all means! The more you experiment, the faster you’ll understand how certain ingredients work together! Personalize recipes you like to make your confections reflect your favorite flavors, just be careful about how much essential ingredients (sugar, flour, eggs, baking soda/powder, etc.) you add because you might accidentally ruin your batter. Remember, chemistry was born in the kitchen; so any cooking you do is a tasty baking soda volcano that can pull a Mount Vesuvius if you add too much vinegar.
Deck the Sweets!
Decorating is the greatest part about baking for most people! It’s like sculpting or painting pottery – except with delicious frosting. You can decorate with pretty much anything that’s edible! Frosting, food coloring, nuts, fruits, chocolate, fondant, marzipan and candy – the sky’s the limit. You could also take a simpler approach by creating a rich, sweet chocolate sauce to drizzle over your cake with a ladle! Tune in to a few of your favorite cooking shows for cake decorating ideas!
You can decorate however you wish, and that’s the single most therapeutic thing ever. There’s no need to follow a recipe once you have your frosting, cake decorating supplies and toppings ready to go.
Maybe you’re making a batch of cookies for an American Red Cross bake sale, so you’ll want to use white sugar icing for the “canvas” to cover the top of your cookie. After, set some icing aside to dye red and draw the American Red Cross logo or other medical paraphernalia like band-aids, thermometers, stethoscopes and so on with a cake decorating tip and a piping bag.
Maybe you’re baking a chocolate cake with butter cream frosting for a friend’s birthday party whose favorite show is Sailor Moon! Set aside appropriate amounts of frosting to dye different colors, and don’t be afraid to go crazy with them! Make sure to draw your friend’s favorite Sailor Scout on the cake to top it all off!
The best thing about baking is that you can do it for yourself, and you can do it for others as well. It’s a reflection of your personality, your attentiveness to others, as well as the fact that you’re self-sustaining.
Your little brother might be really surprised if you bake a batch of snickerdoodles (his favorite!) and sneak them into his lunchbox. He’ll be happy you remembered his favorite type of cookie. It’s also an opportunity clear the air with him, especially if you’ve not been on good terms lately. This shows that you’re open to reconciliation which is a beautiful character trait! You could make a bunch of chocolate truffles for the holidays or for a family reunion party together as a teamwork exercise. If your parents will be out of town for a business meeting, they’ll be more comfortable leaving you and your brother home because they know that you’ll be able to make meals for the both of you and not burn the house down in the process.
Baking is such an excellent outlet for self-expression through art and stress, not to mention the outcome is pretty sweet! Not everyone makes recipes right on their first try, so don’t be discouraged; the more you practice, the better you’ll become at creating your very own treats! Who knows, you may find that you have a real talent for baking in the process. Bon appetit!