Truth is, I haven’t been baking for a long time, only a little more than a year. But, for me, it’s been quite a long journey since then.
Actually, to be accurate, I’ve been baking since I was about 8 years old. I’d always sit in the kitchen with my mother, watching her whip up flan, and pound cake. I was the official whisker and batter licker. For me, it was always so interesting to wonder and marvel how some simple ingredients, such as flour, egg, butter, and sugar can be formed into an elegant and delicious treat meant to be eaten.
I used to hate cake. I abhored it when I was young. Store bought, grocery cakes were always so sickeningly sweet! In fact, I couldn’t even finish a cupcake on my own! But, in 8th grade, I began to get an interest in cupcakes. Girls in my class would always bring in homemade goods, and everyone like it. Any girl that brought in cake, or cookies would be the star of the class that day. I wanted to be that girl, I wanted to be cool. So, I begged my mom: Can I start baking cupcakes? “No,” was her immediate answer. Like me, she hated the fake and processed cupcakes that always seem to lurk at potlucks and parties. But I begged, I persisted. I wouldn’t stop.
So, on Valentines day, she presented me with a gift: 2 cupcake pans, some liners, a pastry bag, and 2 tips. “I searched up some cupcake recipes and we’ll start during spring break,” she said. I was so excited. On that spring break of 8th grade, I started my favorite pastime: baking.
My first cupcakes turned out like this:
They weren’t the greatest. We only had green food coloring, and I overbaked my cake. Also, my frosting had chunks of butter in it. It was nasty, even I wouldn’t eat it. My cake was so heavy, not light and fluffy like the cakes I make today. In fact, I had used my mom’s pound cake recipe to make the cupcakes.
At the time, I was so proud of my cupcakes. I was so excited to bring them to school. But, I only got a half-hearted response. “These are, I guess they’re alright,” one girl said. My heart sunk, and my confidence level definitely went down the drain.
But did that stop me? Obviously not. If it did, then why would I be here, writing to you guys today, about baking?
I continued to bake, every week. I was obsessed. I only baked one thing: a vanilla cupcake with cream cheese frosting, until the end of 8th grade. Sometimes I might’ve done red velvet, but as in the other post, they didn’t turn out well at all.
The criticism was hard to take in 8th grade. The hardest part about art, is taking the judgement from something that you feel like you put all of your best effort in. I found a lot of my cupcakes in the trash, and the fact that people didn’t like what I made discouraged me so much.
I had found my hobby, my pastime, something that separated me from everyone else: baking. The thing is, I almost resorted to using cake mixes. To me, baking should be from scratch. You’re not really baking if you mix some oil and eggs with a factory mad mix of crap flour and baking powder. Baking is about finding the unique combination of ingredients that yields the perfect little mound of whatever you’re baking.
From then, that summer, I spent developing recipes. I attended a cake decorating class from Wilton, and I made some alright-looking brownies.
There were some mishaps here and there, and to be honest, the things I made that summer weren’t really that delicious.
I really started kicking off and making really delicious cupcakes and cakes and treats in 9th grade.
I guess that year, I had some experience, so I was able to do some research on recipes and some good adjustments that would become some of my “best _____ recipes.”
What was extremely important in 9th grade, was that the whole year, I was constantly working on my chocolate cupcake recipe. I have heard some great praise in my chocolate cupcakes, along the lines of
“These are better than Sprinkles,”
Speaking of praise, the happiest thing for me besides baking, is hearing the praise. I know that you’re going to think, “Wow, she’s concieted.” As a baker, nothing is better than to hear, “Your cupcakes are the best I’ve ever eaten.” There is nothing that makes my day more than to have someone come up to me and say: “Kristie, I hate cupcakes. I don’t like them, they’re always too sweet and dry. But your cupcakes are so moist and not-so-sweet and I just love them so much.”
After all your hard work, that’s the thing you want to hear. The reason why I love baking so much is because 1) I feel like I have so much control when I bake, in contrast to my life and 2) I want to make people happy.
From 9th grade, everything has been going well in my baking story. There are some recipes that I’ve tried and haven’t turned out exactly the way I planned, but hey. What’s life without a little lesson? This summer, I began catering cupcakes to my Mom’s co-workers who absolutely adored what I baked. It just made me so happy. So far, I hope that as life moves on, my baking skills will mature and improve like me.
Like macarons, baking gets better with age.