Flour power

March 2019

My latest obsession is watching the many versions of the Greatest Canadian, American or British Baking Show.

Identified by the iconic white tent in a green countryside, 16 or so bakers begin their journey after being selected from hundreds, if not thousands of applicants.

I am so impressed. This of course from someone who, before now, did not do any baking except for the occasional cake mix adorned with canned frosting.

I have learned what plaiting is, how lamination occurs in puff pastry (and the work you must do to get it there) and how one can decorate with a myriad of colours using one single piping bag.

I became so immersed in the baking culture that I volunteered to bake my sister a birthday cake. To say that this was a comedy of errors would be an understatement.

I recalled that I had received a full mixer/blender, with all the attachments, as a wedding gift. I remember using it maybe ten years ago and since then, and one complete kitchen renovation later, it had been relegated to the corner cupboard that would require the flexibility of a gymnast to access.

You guessed it. After lying on my stomach and dragging the marigold colour machine from the dark, I noted that there were no accessories. No bowl, no beaters, no bread hook. (oh yes in its day this was a very expensive model).

Now I was in trouble. Knowing that the cake needed to have aeration when I mix it (so that it is moist and fluffy). I knew this was going to take some muscle work and with a whisk and my old arms, I did the beating needed until it ribboned when held over the bowl and therefore was ready to transfer to the baking pan.

To make things more complicated, I decided to make a Christmas tree cake and decorate it accordingly. (my sister is born December 15) This pan has the nooks and crannies that require heavy butter and flour dusting. And to ensure the air stays in the cake, I had to pour it low to the pan so not to lose the important bubbles I worked so hard whisking, or is that wishing, for.

After taking it out of the oven, cooling on a baking rack (I found out I had one) and frosting, piping and decorating; voila it was done.

I was so excited with the result, I forgot the birthday candles. After seeing a photo, my daughter wanted to know if there was money in it. She is now 31 so you can imagine how long it has been since she saw the tree pan in action.

Since then I have watched a number of the same genre of shows and interestingly haven’t lifted a cake pan. Like a serious student of baking, I have learned a lot but have never really put the lessons to the test. I did get a new mixer though. Yet to be taken out of the original box, I am making a concerted effort not to see it relegated to the deep corners of the deepest cupboard.

Until then I continue to be, can we say obsessed, with the show; watching re-runs and giggling with glee when new seasons are unveiled. I am continuing to learn and pass along my various tidbits of untested knowledge.

As one must always look the part and have the tools to do the best job, I now drift to kitchen stores and apron attire with the excitement of a 50% designer purse sale.

Perhaps baking, like my love of colouring, is my visual creativity coming out. Perhaps it is just about sugar and my sweet tooth. Either way flour has proven to have the power to make me gloriously happy, even without really lifting one spatula.

Happy spring everyone.

Sue Prodaniuk is a marketing, advertising and communications consultant. She can be reached at sprodaniuk@shaw.ca.

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