If you have watched the Great British Baking Show, then you know that watching 10 brits bake endless amounts of pastry, cakes, biscuits, and [insert fancy words I can’t say] makes you want to curl up with an entire chocolate cake, leave your job behind, book the first flight to the UK, and try to roll a Swiss Roll with Mary.
After a couple of episodes, my husband’s repetition of the phrase, “you should make that” got to me. Then, when we started watching The Great British Baking Show Masterclass, I realized that baking my way through the masterclass was a tangible and fun way to bake my way through the show.
I had several thoughts against this. The first being, do I really want all this butter, white sugar, and flour flowing through my house in tempting displays of sugary morsels? The second being that I don’t have the time. The third being that I couldn’t, I advocate health for god-sake. Then I realized that I have a husband and dozens of friends and neighbors that will happily take on the challenge of eating the baked foods, I do have the time (I can take as much time as I want), that living a healthy lifestyle does not exclude the baking of cakes, they can be incorporated with pleasure (though I will have to watch how much of them I eat), and that understanding how to bake a “Victoria sponge” will make me better at creating new, healthier versions of cakes.
My excuses were eradicated and I was left with a list of reasons that I want to bake my way through the show.
RE-IGNITING MY LOVE FOR BAKING
I absolutely love cooking. Spending time in the kitchen with my shoes off, music going, my hair in a top not, and a glass of wine is therapy for me, just like it is, I’m sure, for many of you. But as I have been seeing clients, researching nutrition topics (I wrote a couple of huge research papers about nutrition and the media and the nutrition content of local food), as well as creating meal plans, I have watched that spark I have for the kitchen slowly fad. I have wondered why night after night, I don’t seem to even want to cook dinner. I have been hoping that my husband will offer or I have been throwing out the idea of oatmeal for dinner more times than I like to admit.
Above all, I love baking the most. When I am stressed, happy, excited, lonely, frustrated, you name it, I bake. But I have also watched my baking go from elaborate new creations, to simple chocolate chip cookies. Since I don’t plan on stopping my work in nutrition any time soon, I still have clients to see and a semester left at university, I need to do something to enliven my ambition in the kitchen.
What better way than a challenge?!
As we watched show after show, I was shocked that I had never heard of 99% of the baked goods, let alone made them. In my decade of baking, I have been focused so much on trying to master gluten-free, paleo, grain-free, vegan goods that I have skipped many of the foundational recipes that most people start with. I mean, why make simple chocolate chip cookies when you can make almond flour, cranberry, pistachio, chocolate chip cookies.
Am I right?
It wasn’t until this year that I made toll house chocolate chip cookies as a thank you gift to a friend. I don’t believe you need to make toll-house chocolate chip cookies. You absolutely do not. You could go your whole life making healthy versions of cookies and you would probably fair better. However, baking comes down to chemistry, and as someone who prides themselves in understanding baking science, I realized that I have missed out on understanding an entire foundation of basic principles.
I learn through action (kinesthetic learner here) so my goal with baking my way through these British recipes is that it will challenge me to reach out of my normal bubble and expand my baking potential. It will also serve as a guide to understanding new techniques and the scientific reactions that are happening between ingredients depending on the order, techniques, and style of baking. Are you with me? Exciting huh? Nerdy? Definitely.
I am excited to learn these techniques to make me a better health-nut baker. I am all for being creative, but to truly make great unconventional goods, you must know the basics. It’s like in the gym, in order to go off on your own or go hard in a crossfit workout, you need to know the proper form and you should probably know how to squat, deadlift, and lunge properly before you try to snatch.
I am currently studying food and nutrition through an Anthropological lens. The connection that we have to food culture and to tradition is not spoken of enough. Our culture dictates our food choices and our health to a large extent. My ancestors are from the UK, Britain, Ireland, and a bit of Scotland from what I have figured out. Connecting with these traditions is important to me. It is also important to me to note that these “traditions” are only a couple of hundred years old, some are only one hundred years old. I would also like to work backwards through cakes and jam, to potatoes and tea, then to sourdough wheat bread, oatmeal, goats milk, Guinee fowl, sauerkraut, etc. to understand the holistic picture of my evolution with food.
I don’t have a deadline. I don’t see the need to bake one recipe a day or anything crazy. I am simply going to make a recipe each chance I get. So if your family, get ready for treats…
Last night, we went to a friends house for dinner and they asked us to bring dessert.
I decided to start with the most classic recipe of all (at least in my mind), the Victoria Sandwich.
I won’t post the recipe on my blog because I followed Paul’s exactly. For the most part, I will be following their recipes, but I have never been good at following recipes. If I change anything, I will post my version, but aside from that, I will link to the recipes I used. You can read about my experience with the Victoria Sandwich here.
I will leave you with (hopefully) a dash of inspiration, and a sprinkle of gusto.
On your marks, get set, baaake!