A Letter to Bakers: The Real Holiday Heroes
Dear Culinary Badass/ Baker,
You might be wondering if I am addressing you: a dough kneading, whisk whipping, flour-covered mess trying to bake for the holidays. Why, yes I am! Put that spatula down ya silly ol' baker and applaud yourself.
'Tis the Season to be Baking
Peppermint extract, cinnamon-nutmeg, hot chocolate infusion?! At this moment, no one has a greater talent at owning these flavors in the kitchen but you. You, my friend, may not see yourself as a competitor baking on Cupcake Wars or The Great British Bake Off but, to the rest of your friends and family, you probably are.
Between you and me, baking is not for everyone; it requires patience, time, science, energy, and a hot working oven. Sadly, it's also not an ability that's gained on the eve of the annual holiday party or when a boy is coming over.
But What If My Baking Sucks?
I'm not saying baking only comes naturally or is inherited through blood, but it's a skill that you've adopted and embraced in the name of dough (and heat). Maybe you've come a long way since that first batch of rock hard gingerbread or that black burnt hamantaschen. Even I remember serving my first plate (or rather tray since they were stuck to the pan) of cookies for Santa turned out to be more on the savory side. Despite these mistakes, you kept pushing through. You went through batch after batch, worked recipe after recipe, ignored carb-shame after carb-shame because at the of the day, baking is not about creating an edible showstopper. It's something not without people you care about, to slice up a cake for, or give a cookie to. The term "baker's single" just doesn't exist.
The Big (Baked) Bang
Since the dawn of baking, it is a well-known fact around bakers, that behind every baked good, there's a baker. Behind every baked gift, there's a baking giver. One may argue that their mug cake was independently made by and for him/herself to which I say, "There's no microwave in the dawn of baking! Also why is your 'oven' the microwave?" The point is, by being a baker, you've unknowingly included yourself into the tradition of sharing a piece of warmth that's as universally symbolized by a heat, liquid, flour, protein concoction. It's during this season especially, that that symbol makes people notice us (as they decorate their pine trees or sip eggnog) when we step up to the plate, put on our aprons, and just keep doin' what we do.
We may not be professional bakers, but at this time of the year, it's out time to shine. For many seasons we've been outshined by turkey roasters, sous vide enthusiasts, and the pizza delivery guys (who ain't the ones baking the pizza). During that time you maybe tried out some monkey bread pizza thing you saw on Spoon University or binged your way through "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" realizing that as many cities as there are chefs in that show, there's hardly anyone seen shoving on a pair of oven mitts.
So never fear pastry maker- give a cheer, the holidays are here. There are those who want to stay by the hearth while tuning into the radio station that's playing "Jingle Bells" for the 83rd time and then there's you: dusting off your snowman-shaped cookie cutter. It's been 11 months since red and green sprinkles popped back onto the shelves of your supermarket and you have that "Last Club Meeting of the Year" potluck this weekend. From baker to baker, I couldn't be more proud of you're sweet skills and Santa couldn't be more proud of your cookies. Bake on!
Baking By Your Side,
A Baked Banana Slug