Baking in the Real World

Lately, I’ve been trying to get into baking. I shouldn’t say trying because I think I’m actually doing it. I like baking. Or at least, I think I do. Maybe I just like eating whatever I bake, or maybe I like the smell of it, or maybe I like that baking makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something and that I’m somehow better than I was when I didn’t bake. 

To say I like baking seems like such a simple statement but all of a sudden it seems complicated too. As if nothing ever is as simple as it sounds on the surface. As if everything has to have layers and confusion and hidden meanings. It’s exhausting just thinking about it. 

When I watch the ‘how-to’ videos that sometimes accompany the recipes, baking seems simple enough. Then again, lots of things seem easy when other people are doing them. But as soon as you’re the one having to do the work, things rarely feel easy at all. That’s just the way life works. 

I used to think baking would be a relaxing activity like how it’s sometimes portrayed in the movies. Like if you ever fancied fresh bread or brownies, all you’d need to do is whip a few ingredients together in a bowl, pop it into the oven, and wait. Reality is a lot different – though I suppose you already know that. That’s the hard truth we learn growing up. Welcome to the real world, people say. Though they never sound welcoming at all when they say it. They sound cynical and aggressive and angry, as if the world did them a great wrong and it will do you a great wrong too, sooner or later, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Baking in the real world is messy. It’s flour spilt on a table, and broken eggshells, and trying to convert ml to grams and grams to cups while the heat from the oven is making you sweaty and flustered. It’s burnt cookies, and scones that didn’t rise properly, and sticky spoons. 

Welcome to the real world. A world with rules that some people follow and some people don’t but get away with it anyway. A world where milk gets spilled, quite often, and people tell you there’s no use crying over it. A world where people get burnt and maybe even you do, too. 

And maybe we’re always one slip away from disaster or pain or boredom or injustice but we go on living anyway. And we go on baking. Tonight, I am going to bake a lemon cake. It might be a complete catastrophe; I might regret it very much. But it also might be the very best thing I’ve ever baked in my entire life. I’ll let you know.

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