Around about last November when it was getting cold, I decided to try my hand at baking. It had nothing to do with the craze for British Bake Off, not at all. I have barely watched an episode, I don’t watch much tv these days anyway. So I decided to get some items together and start baking. Why start baking now, I suppose I thought it would be nice to bake something for a group that I attend on a Monday, and I was in the kind of mood to try and something new.
There is a bit of history of baking in my family, my great grandmother on my dad’s side was an impressive cook apparently she could take any ingredients in her cupboard and make something out of it, and as a child my mum used to cook recipes that she had taught her, including a delicious version of spaghetti bolognaise that no one else does in the same way at all. My mum was a brilliant cook mind you most people think their mums are great cooks. I loved her roast dinners, shortbread, stir frys which she did in later life. My nan on my mum’s side had been a caterer in a restaurant, she was great with pastry such as jam tarts and Yorkshire puddings. She taught me about the importance of having cold hands for pastry and how to pour drinks, there is a method to pour a drink without spilling it.
My other nan did some Viennese biscuits, not the whirls you see in the shop, they were shaped in a crescent moon shape and contained almonds, I remember her making a grape tart for my grandfather who was diabetic. She wasn’t as a good a cook as the rest of the family.
As far as me in my mum’s kitchen is concerned. my mum didn’t particularly help me to learn to cook with my sight problems, although she would let me chop the parsley and stir white sauce and obviously get me to help wash up!!
At school we did have cookery lessons, I remember making peanut butter cookies, chocolate brownies, and marzipan fruits and peppermint creams, well they were the things we cooked or baked in my early school years. In the seniors we had regular cookery lessons, from boiling an egg (which was the only A I got at school which members of my family still think is hilarious) to Christmas cake. But I never really attempted to bake/cook from scratch on my own.
You may be wondering what equipment sight impaired people use when cooking or baking, so much of cooking is about not just what you see it’s the use of your other senses, the smell or the feel of what your doing, so you can feel with your spoon if something is melting, sight does help, hearing for bubbles in a pan and tasting the level of salt in a sauce. I use talking scales to measure out ingredients, I use videos to check my methods sometimes. you can also get talking measuring jugs, talking microwaves and braille timers. Although I do think sight helps that I have to admit. I find that I’m much slower as I’m forever trying to locate the spatula or the cornflour. I have to re read recipes too in case I miss anything out.
Since starting my new hobby I have baked shortbread, both ordinary and millionaires shortbread, although that was with a friend and her daughter. Banana bread a wholemeal variety, and flapjacks made with Demerara sugar. My first attempt at flapjacks was a disaster owing to leaving in the oven which although I turned off forgot that when you leave something in the oven even though it’s turned off it’s still cooking so hence burnt flapjack, I was pretty upset about it as I thought it should be really simple. Still the second attempt today has worked out much better, and only one burnt corner. I’ve baked flapjacks and shortbread for an outing tomorrow.
In future I want to try my hand at chocolate brownies, peanut butter cookies, cheesecake, a different version of banana bread, and after that I don’t know yet, perhaps some pie or other.
I’m surprised how much I’ve enjoyed baking, it’s something I can do on my own and I’ve found that baking is quite therapeutic, I had a week where I was rather bored or sad I can’t remember which so I baked which seemed to make a difference, the sheer concentration involved means you can’t think about anything else.
I feel rather tired now after baking for other people, so I think now it’s time to get something to eat for myself, and that I think will probably be a chippy!!