From Our Readers
October 10, 2015 10:00 am

I adore brownies. I’ve always been obsessed with brownies. When I was very young I decided I loved baking and would love it for all days forever. From then on, rain or shine, someone would ask me what I liked to do for fun and I would say, “baking!” They’d ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I’d yell “a baker!” They’d ask me how my soccer game went and I’d exclaim“baked goods!”

Probably. That last one is just speculation. But it really was a wild and beautiful time in my life. And from the wee ages of 5 to 16 I truly thought I was a bona-fide baker. Then, one fateful February day, a friend came over and, leaning against the fridge as I proudly mixed my brownie ingredients like a pro, said lazily, “Oh, you make your brownies from a box?”

The floor dropped out from beneath me. My head spun with a horrible realization: other people made brownies from scratch? From that moment on, I resolved, I would try that.

It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t fast. It wasn’t without its stressors. But soon, it all started to make sense, and it was glorious. It was rewarding, and it tasted damn good, and since then, my countless forays into baking have taught me so many lessons about life. Honestly, though – baking solves all problems. Here’s why it’s my personal panacea.

There is no better stress release

Like any last-year college student trying to juggle school, a ton of extracurriculars, beginning thinking about the job hunt, a social life and making time for myself, stress has manifested itself in almost every avenue of my life.

This may be my baking bias talking, but there is nothing, and I mean nothing, more cathartic than carefully measuring out ingredients, more relaxing than thatsmell that comes drifting slowly into your apartment as your concoction bakes, and more gratifying than the proud moment you get to sample what you’ve made from scratch. If you’re stressed, take some time to mix together some fresh chocolate chip cookies. You might feel better, even if all it does is give you that break you’ve been needing so badly.

It makes other people happy

Baking for yourself is amazing, but baking for other people is the freaking best. Very, very few humans will turn down a warm brownie or a fun cupcake. Going to a meeting and want to make some new friends? Whip up some apple crisp. It’s your friend’s birthday and you want the perfect gift? Make them some funfetti blondies. Providing people with a homemade sugary treat will more quickly and effectively than any other method allow them to recognize the generous and beautiful human you are – and of course, will make them super happy.

It’s an alternative to “dinner and a movie”

I’ve done my fair share of scouring all those “unusual date ideas” articles. I’ve never found anything that quite matches my longing for a date that’s fun, quirky, cute, casual and that also caters to my penchant for coziness. But baking together, my friends, is that date. It works if you’re just getting to know each other or if you’ve known each other for a long time, if you’re not feeling like leaving the house, if you’re craving sweets (as I am all the time always), or if you want to feel like a sugar-whispering Cake Boss-type movie baker duo.

Disclaimer: it doesn’t have to be a romantic date! Friend dates become chiller and awesomer when they involve throwing whatever candy, flour, butter and sugar is in the house into a bowl and seeing what happens.

Occasionally you’ve gotta get your hands dirty

I’m a next-to-broke college student whose purchases include the necessary bread, peanut butter and frozen pizza and not much else, so quite obviously an electric mixer is outside my realm of expense. I have purchased baking pans from the dollar store, swipe a few spoons from my parents’ house anytime I go home, and create makeshift ingredients out of other ingredients (no buttermilk? Combine whole milk and white vinegar, the internet says). You could say I’m a very thrifty baker.

It means that you have to devote your full attention

Baking is a lot pickier than cooking. It’s not quite as willing to be subject to “this much” more salt or “that much” less flour. Sometimes you might get lucky; that extra half teaspoon of cinnamon managed to overpower the extra salt you threw in. But most of the time, baking doesn’t take kindly to arbitrary changes. Sweet dishes are a lot less flexible than savory ones, which means in order to make that prime dessert, you’ve got to be meticulous, and you’ve got to care about what you’re doing. Baking is an art! And it is not something you can do half-heartedly; it takes your full attention and your full dedication, and in doing so it will remind you how rewarding it is to put special care into something.

Baking something with love really does make it taste better

I’m not sure how this works, guys. Maybe love truly is an actual ingredient, and in its magic it assists baked goods in tasting like heaven incarnated. But really, if you care about what you’re doing, and you’re putting your all into it, it tastes that much better at the end of the day.

Sophie van Bastelaer is a Belgian-English-American currently undergoing her fourth year of university in Canada. Check out her ramblings, ponderings, joys and questions about relationships, social media, health, and cliches and more on her blog: https://rosiecheekd.wordpress.com

[Image via Universal Pictures]

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