I love baking. It soothes my soul. It brings me joy to see others enjoy the cakes, cupcakes, cookies, pies, and pastries. I enjoy trying new recipes, techniques, and ingredient swaps.
When I received word that my employer was outsourcing a large group of positions – including mine, I brought in to work a big batch of cookies every day for over a week. Eventually a co-worker said to me “You know, the cookie exchange was last month.”
Once I had kids, I tried to keep cookie ingredients and a spare ‘ready to bake’ option around. More than once I supplied a cookie dessert for a last minute dinner with family and friends.
Birthday cakes (and pies) are a special way I show family love. I wish I could say I can still do the cakes completely myself. Sometimes ingredients or tools are out of reach. Sometimes my balance says no to using the oven safely. Sometimes my energy laughs at the plan.
This was today. A strawberry birthday cake mission. I gathered the ingredients – box mix, oil, eggs. I hauled out the heavy standing mixer, glass bowl, found the beaters, and assembled the mixer. The pan was low and too far back on a shelf. I was 1 egg short in the carton I took out. The full 18 egg carton was too high and at too awkward an angle to just open for one egg. Yes, a helper came to my rescue – pulled out the pan, gave me the 3rd egg, and helped get the cake in and out of the oven.
You probably noticed I skipped how the batter went into the pan. The mixing bowl was heavy before the batter. I quickly realized my pouring the batter into the tall pan at a tall counter was not going to work. Would the bowl slip and fall? Would the pan tip over? Both? I had invested too much energy so far to risk either. I grabbed the nearest clean scoop, a ⅓ cup sugar scoop, and scooped the batter. I recommend a larger scoop, a serving ladle, or better yet, a plastic measuring cup.
When cool, another helper flipped the cake onto a plate. I made sure the cake was loose enough. Later came the frosting and candles. A strawberry frosting fan insisted on frosting the cake. I insisted on adding the fluff touch. My helper enjoyed the leftover frosting.
Originally I planned to do everything except transferring the cake in and out of the oven. The reality was that I had to adjust as I went along. I just kept reminding myself the goal was to end with a strawberry cake with strawberry frosting. Was there really any rules other than the recipe?
See, even a task like baking a cake can have opportunities for others to help, ways to adjust difficult steps, and still allow you to feel you did something special for someone.
Go ahead, find something where you might need a little help, but when finished will make you feel you did something special!