My Own Great British Bake Off

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February 13, 2013 by The Ascending Staircase

I suppose, looking through my blog, it looks like I do rather a lot of thinking. Which I do. But I also have other hobbies that I use to take my mind of everything else, one of which is baking.
It all started when I was a child; from a young age, I was taught how to bake by my nan. I loved tracking my progress. To begin with, I’d be allowed to cut out the shapes, then progressed onto mixing the dough together, then promoted to carefully rolling out the mixture, learning how to stop it sticking to the surface and how to get an even thickness.
Every year, we used to create shortbread biscuits with bright primary-coloured icing, chocolates in the shape of teddy bears and fairy cakes to sell for the Children in Need charity. My love of baking stems from those carefree days.
I have now inherited my nan’s old cookbook, a veritable treasure trove of treats and delights. I have used it, kept it safe and added my own recipes over time. Though it is fragile, it is wonderfully inspiring.
It is both the act of using this cookbook and of baking itself that calms me, reminds me of happy childhood days, takes away my stresses. I don’t have to think past how much flour to use and whether a little tweak in the recipe will make for a better final product. It is a balance of methodology, careful judgement and creativity. There is always a wonderful sense of pride when the oven is opened, the sweet smell rushes out to greet your nose, and the product sits there looking perfect. Brilliant.

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Cookies are my favourite; they’re easy to make, don’t require much equipment and the housemates seem to love them (so do I, to tell you the truth. Much better than the dry store-bought sort). However, I always enjoy tackling a new, more complicated recipe, though preferably in my parents’ house with their better equipped kitchen! After all, there is only so much you can achieve in a university student’s kitchen. I made a cheesecake over Christmas that went so wrong during the making process that I never thought it would work. Yet, with the magic of an oven and a few crossed fingers, it came out perfectly. Thank goodness; cheesecake’s my favourite.

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