There is more to baking than cakes.

 Last week, Yan Tsou from GBBO posted on Instagram; “You can lead a Yan to cake, but you can’t make her decorate it.” This resonated with me so much! Cakes are lovely. They really are, but the only thing I am ever asked to bake is a cake and frankly they are not something I really enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, cake is delicious and there is always room at the table for them – they are a hallmark of a celebration. There are bakers such as many of my friends who have graced your TV screens as part of “The Great Canadian Baking Show” who blow me away with their artistry and I am constantly in awe, but for me it is a struggle to get a smooth side on a cake let alone make it look like a work of art. I never did any drawing, painting, sculpting or any other creative expression through those mediums growing up, my outlet was singing and acting so visual arts are not my thing. For that reason along with my full time job, I rarely take commissions. On the occasion when I do, it is for a friend or a colleague but it can create stress for me. I worry about if it’s “good enough” all through the process and even beyond. I have heard it said by many that you eat with your eyes first. I agree with this, but at times I worry that cakes have become about how they look, and not about the cake itself. On a cake post on social media the flavours and fillings of a cake are more often a footnote, when that is what you actually eat. I don’t get that. 

My love of baking is really built around other baked goods like Viennoiserie, pastries, tarts, biscuits, and the like though I have developed a love for bread since the show that I never had before. Bread week was the one week that caused me the most concern as prior to that experience almost every bread I baked was basically a brick, but that’s another story – back to the other stuff.   I’ve always been curious about what pastries are popular in other countries. This started for me when I lived in Sweden, and discovered treats like a Sarah Bernhardt cookies, and Lussekatter (Saffron buns). It was during my time in Sweden that I started watching the Great British Bake Off, and was introduced to puddings, treacle, Chelsea buns and so much more. Sure, each country and region in those countries also have cakes but they are usually to feature a local ingredient, or something historical and do not require a lot of fancy decoration. That’s really more my style. 

As you explore baking, remember there are so many different things to bake! Don’t limit yourself!

Published by Jay Smidt

A semi=pro baker from Cantley, Quebec Canada

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