This week is National Baking Week. Seven days that give us an excuse to stuff our faces with fatty, heart-attack inducing, homemade goodies. But do we really need a national incentive to tell us to bake, when we are all at it already?
The whole of the country seems to be going mad for home baking, and National Baking Week is just the tip of the ic-ing. BBC2’s The Great British Bake Off has been an unexpected hit, pulling in 4 million viewers each week and becoming the channel’s most watched programme, John Lewis has reported increasing sales in bake-ware (cake and muffin trays by 15%, cookie cutters and cake stands by 10%) and book stores are beyond bursting with recipe books, each one claiming a unique selling point (or should that be a unique recipe point) that makes it stand out from the hundred others.
As a keen amateur baker myself I can understand why baking has suddenly become so popular. There is something insanely satisfying about pulling a freshly baked cake out of the oven and inhaling the sugary-sweet smells.
Kneading, mixing, whisking, piping, each stage of baking involves getting hands on and that is what I believe gives the people who do it a real sense of achievement. I can’t draw or paint or act or play an instrument (I learnt the violin for 7 years and only got to Grade 1!) but baking I understand. I find it a real outlet for my creativity and can spend hours coming up with the perfect colour icing and matching decorations for vanilla cupcakes (maybe that’s something I shouldn’t be admitting!). There are many others that feel the same way; twitter, facebook and the blogging world are awash with millions of home bakers showing off their baking creative flair with the rest of the world. People are proud of what they have made and so they should be.
It’s not just the satisfaction of making something yourself but also knowing exactly what’s in your creation. You can whip up a simple sponge using just four ingredients, no E numbers, flavourings or preservatives here, just pure, honest food.
Sharing what you have made with family and friends is another part of the charm. I’ve found that people are immediately drawn to me if I’m carrying baked goodies and I’ve had many a conversation with complete strangers on buses about my cakes! This has become my motto: take cake and you will make friends! That’s the thing about home baking; there’s love baked into every cake, cookie, tart or pie and that’s what beats shop-bought alternatives any day.
What I love most about baking is that it’s not just a hobby… it’s a hobby you can eat. Is there anything better?
Check back on Thursday for a National Baking Week Pick of the Line where we will be sharing recipes and, for those who would rather eat someone else’s baking, show you the best cupcake café’s on the East London Line.