Every Saturday, my Grandma Ethel had baking day. She would get up early and be in the kitchen from morning until dinner time, turning out cakes and pies, cookies and breads. She did the same thing that her mother did when she was a child.
Baking throughout my teens and into adulthood, I realized that while the initial intention years ago was to bake for the family for the week, I soon experienced the same unexpected benefit that maybe she knew all along. It was her time to be alone. Her time to work with doughs, cream sugar and butter together, apply science or ‘know how’ as she called it, and ultimately make delicious art. Baking, once you become comfortable with it and feel successful when you do it, is a calming place. Your own moments of Zen.
For those that didn’t grow up with baking, watching food bloggers on Instagram and Pinterest is extremely intimidating. It would be like me trying to design a dress when all I see are pictures online of Dior.
However, the craft of baking is actually very simple. The point of doing it is not to take a photo and post it online, though we have been trained in this day and age that unless it’s beautiful enough to post, why bother? Here’s one reason…try this easy recipe and let me know!
FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE
½ cup semisweet chocolate chopped
½ cup bittersweet chocolate chopped
1 stick unsalted butter
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs room temperature
½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly spray a metal 8″ or 9” round cake pan, or springform pan; or cut a piece of parchment to fit, lay it in the bottom of the pan and spray non-stick baking spray.
- Put the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until both are melted. You can also do this in a double boiler at very low heat.
- Stir in the sugar, salt, and vanilla.
- Add the eggs, one and a time, beating briefly until smooth. Add the cocoa powder and fold together. Mix until combined.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
- Bake the cake for 23-25 minutes. The top will have formed a thin crust and a toothpick will come out nearly clean.
- Remove it from the oven and cool it in the pan for 5 minutes.
- If using a standard cake pan, loosen the edges of the pan with a table knife and turn it over onto a serving plate.
- Glaze with chocolate ganache or raspberry puree if desired or serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Baking is about creating something delicious for yourself, for a friend, a spouse, a partner or child, because baked goods make people smile. Baked goods warm hearts, they show thoughtfulness. They make us feel good.
My advice? Don’t be afraid to try. Ignore the recipes online that list difficult to find ingredients or complicated steps. Baking should be easy. Baking should inexpensive. And you don’t need a special occasion to do it.
All you need is a desire to learn something new, the willingness to fail once in a while as all bakers do, yet also knowing that when you succeed, the rewards will last a lifetime.
Diana Sproveri teaches online baking classes through her company Lollibakes.
photo credits: lollibakes.com, and profile photo:@justineungaro