Pumpkin bread just prior to baking

Setting up the Best Brownie Recipe Contest taught me something I did not know. Far fewer women are baking. How could that be? I began this post by looking at what baking is, precisely. Here’s what wiki told me:

Baking is the technique of prolonged cooking of food by dry heat acting by convection, and not by radiation, normally in an oven, but also in hot ashes, or on hot stones. It is primarily used for the preparation of bread, cakes, pastries and pies, tarts, quiches, and cookies.

In short, this is a very very old process. Indeed, when humankind mastered the art of fire, they shifted from a hunter/gatherer lifestyle, to an agrarian lifestyle. And the experimentation of what one could do with various grasses and grains, including the first baked breads, emerged. Our soul memory on baking is extremely old. It’s in our genes.

Relief of bakery of Ramses III (12th century B.C.), from his tomb

While I know that many many of my loyal readers do, in fact, bake, my realization is that the majority of women, particularly young women, do not. They are busy and they grab mixes off the shelves of local markets–even health food markets. Here’s what I want you to know.

First, baking is really easy. Impossibly easy. You have access to a zillion recipes in seconds simply by googling. And if you can read a manual, you can read a recipe. And, there are all levels of baking. I’m busy, too. Pick the easy recipes. The fast recipes. If you master one or two or three and you will already be way ahead of your peers, will advance your lifestyle by you won’t believe what quantum number, and your family will never forget that you did.

scone dough, so delightfully ancient a thing
Scones ready for oven–so wonderful in their messiness, and about to be transformed!

Secondly, if you bake you will save tons of money. You may think you are “saving time” by grabbing something off the shelf, but you are spending a lot more of your income. What do you pay for a scone? I make at least eight each week and freeze them as soon as they cool off, each in an individual plastic bag. I have one with tea in the morning. I know I’m getting butter, fresh organic eggs, cream, healthy flour and organic fruit, often blueberries or, in summer, wild blackberries I can pick in my own garden. Let’s see. I am spending under $2.00 for eight scones. What are spending at your local coffeeshop for a muffin? See? And it’s like this with anything you can imagine. You save your money while increasing the value of what’s available to you and your family at any given moment. You have good food on hand.

Thirdly, by learning to bake you will change your relationship with yourself by empowering yourself to create food from virtually nothing. Good nothings, but you know what I mean. You can take flour and water and oil and egg and sugar and create something marvelous. Over and over again.

“Nothin’ says lovin’ like somethin from the oven.” ~Pillsbury tagline

In pondering this post I was recalling last evening something my wonderful teacher Angeles Arrien told us about when I was studying anthropology in grad school. She shared that at some point in her early upper education she had participated in a study conducted in nursing homes. The purpose was to find creative ways to impact the well being of those living in nursing homes. These folks found that residents responded very well to the simple act of allowing the smells that come from baking to filter through the air system into their rooms.

Imagine the wonderful delicious smells that come from peach pie, gingerbread, peanut butter cookies, puddings, baked apples, ah, yes, and pumpkin bread, a favorite in our home. Imagine the impact that has on you and your family. It speaks of well being. It speaks of luxury. It speaks of comfort. And it speaks of deep nourishment, which you provide. How do you pay for that, short of a chef?

Lastly, I am obliged to say that baking is really really FUN! Yesterday I found these heart-shaped cookie cutters and I cannot wait for Valentine’s Day as I am already planning to make butter cookies, the very kind I made when Antonia was a little girl, with frosting. Oh, yes I am.
And I stood pondering that teeny heart in the center asking myself, what can I do with that? And realized that the next pie I make with a top crust (though I tend to weave my crusts as I can’t bear not to, they are so amazing) I will embellish with a small circle of hearts. I am excited just to think of it. Am I part Martha?

Love and kitchen blessings!
Kathryn xoxo

28 Responses to “Baking”

  1. Yummy, mom! I’m convinced! Yes, I shall bake! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I actually Love to bake, but you were my original inspiration there, as the gifted baker you are!
    Thanks for sharing this passion with me, and now with your readers! Wonderful!

    Love you,

  2. Thanks, Antonia! And you were the inspiration for whom I baked. ๐Ÿ™‚ I will never forget your baking cookies at the vegetarian restaurant where I baked oh so very long ago in Amsterdam. Oh your entrepreneurial spirit was born that day, I’ll tell you! So there’s that. You can make money as well as save it! ๐Ÿ™‚ Love, Mom xoxo

  3. Wonderfully put!
    My daughter and I love baking. It is one of the most relaxing, satisfying gifts anyone can give to their family.
    Thank you for this article.

  4. Welcome, Lucia! Yes, I can imagine you baking in the kitchen with your beautiful daughter! Relaxing and satisfying, yes! Love, Kathryn xoxo

  5. I believe the little hearts are to make cutouts in the big hearts, to make window cookies! But your idea is awesome too…


    PS – Now you’ve made me want scones…

  6. Hi, Mikki Q! I know YOU bake! ๐Ÿ™‚ Oooohhh! Hearts within hearts! I like it! Thanks! Scone recipe here Thanks for visit, dear. Kathryn xoox

  7. I love to bake! I don’t know how I found your blog, but it’s great.
    I would LOVE to have the recipe for the blueberry scones in these pictures! I immediately had a craving for scones after reading, and seeing. (I have only made scones once or twice. They are not my specialty.)

    Do you share recipies???

  8. OH, just saw recipe link up above!!! Will go look at it. THANK YOU! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Welcome Becky! Glad you found your way here. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Delighted that you love to bake! Glad you found the recipe. Yes, I share all my recipes. If something I discovered can make someone’s day, GREAT! Enjoy!
    Kathryn xoxo

  10. Hehe…we have both been busy in the kitchen. I find baking is great both for the soul and the stomach. It looks delicious Kathryn! xx Tyra

  11. Believe it or not, I am a baker, myself. I caught onto it late in life but the most worthwhile aspect of it was exactly as you said – how doggone easy it is. I mean, throw some stuff in the oven and pull it out. I have gotten big on casseroles for dinner too. Peppers, onions, my own seasonings for meats, fruits chunks inside – my plum and pinapples chicken is pretty awesome now! I had a friend who used to come by who I wouold cook for who is glad I relocated. Said he had to go to Atkin’s as soon as I left, lol. It is that good. And the smells….yesss.

  12. Good morning, Tyra! What have you been baking?? Do tell! “Great both for the soul and stomach” is a good observation! Thanks for stopping by and sharing! Kathryn xoxo

  13. Hi, Steve! I do believe you! I can tell you’ve got Baker Spirit! And that’s what I think, too. Throw some stuff in the oven and out comes a MIRACLE! And, yes, dinner, too! Mac ‘n Cheese, Steve! But pineapple chicken sounds awfully yummy! Love your friend’s humor, but bet he misses your cooking! Kathryn xoxo

  14. Delicious post Kathryn! My girls and I bake when we can, sometimes from scratch, sometimes from Trader Joes mixes to which we add our own fresh berries. And I still plan to make your blueberry scones, thanks for the reminder. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Good Sunday morning, Kathlene! Glad to hear you have taught your girls to bake, too! They will thank you forever! Love, Kathryn xoox

  16. Yes, yes, yes, home made is better. With all my extra duties this last holiday, I bought a stollen from Germany, at great expense, and was quite disappointed. I used to make dozens of them and give them as holiday gifts. So I went out and bought yeast and all the ingredients. Hopefully next weekend I’ll be pulled together enough to bake 4 or 6 of them. They freeze well. I don’t know that my recipe is the original one, being from an old Farm Jounral baking book, but it’s the one I know and so the one I miss. There are certain baked treats, like there are certain meals, that remind me of my childhood and my grandmother come to visit doing something in the kitchen.

  17. Oh, Julie, you make such an important point–the continuity of family traditions and history! The honoring of what is passed down from one generation of (mostly) women to their (mostly) daughters. And, yes, I’ve had the same experience. I buy something thinking it will do, and it simply does not. And how could it be otherwise? Nothing can compare to something made with love for one’s family,fresh out of the oven. Fresh stollen sounds delicious! I may have to try one! Kathryn xoxo

  18. Dear Kathyrn,

    I have always been a baker, until lately,when the waistlines got a little thicker.
    I still bake for sick friends.,and use favorites for dinner invites.

    At holiday time I bake cookies for all my neighbors and friends.
    I use my grandmother’s recipes and feel that I am going back to “my roots”
    My Mother was not a homemaker and rarely baked so I have to go back a generation, which is a great connection.
    I have frozen a collection, to share with my sister and brother-in-law, when they come next week.

    Thanks again, for inspiring so many.

    Love, Betsy

  19. Hi, Betsy, Love that you bake your grandmother’s recipes. I do same! It truly does tap us back into our roots. No doubt about it. I have not yet made a little book of my Grandmother’s recipes, but this is a good reminder to do that for Antonia–and for myself. I have a few precious recipes in her handwriting and I treasure them dearly. Freezing ahead is a good idea, too! Kathryn xoxo

  20. Hi Kathryn!
    You have inspired me for Valentines Day with the heart cookie cutters!
    I JUST checked, and I have a heart shaped one!
    I inherited a beautiful set ( just shaped tin, really, but with turned pale green enameled handles, and easily over a hundred years old.) They have languished in the drawer, and now they can be put to use! Isn’t that great to find you already have something that you can use to show others how much you love them!
    I can see heart shaped sugar cookies, with large crystalline sugar on the top!

  21. Hi, Philip! Oh, how wonderful, yes, to have something you’ve inherited from the family that gets put to good use. Green enameled handles sound so beautiful! I would love to see that cookie cutter! And, yes, I love that large crystalline sugar for baking! I sprinkle it on top of the scones now, after brushing tops with cream! ๐Ÿ™‚ Enjoy, Philip! Kathryn xoox

  22. Great, but kind of sad, post Kathryn. It makes me sad that women don’t bake. I guess they think they don’t have time with their careers. I know I will sound really old-fashioned, but I sometimes wonder what we’ve traded for our suits in the boardroom. I think I can say this, I am happier now than when I was a career woman with two small children in tow.

    Also, at the risk of sounding truly old-fashioned, why can’t our schools still teach everyone to bake, sew and garden. Boys and girls, young men and women. We all need these skills. Remind me to teach my son how to thread a needle later. ๐Ÿ™‚ ~~Dee

  23. Hi, Dee, Oh, I so agree! It’s not old fashioned. We are discovering that our very lifestyles are making us sick and our planet sick. Children are obese. We get cancer. Why? One big reason is that we are grabbing at foods about whose origins we know nothing about. We assume it’s been screened for safety, for our well being. Extreme example is when over 2,000 of our beloved pets died because we were asleep at the wheel and were not being mindful of what people were putting in our petfood. It’s the same with our children and ourselves. Bad oils. High fructose corn syrup. (We have to get rid of the corn somehow, right? We have contracts with farmers that oblige us.) And overdrugging us with prescription pills. The Quick Fix is not a fix at all. It’s a racket. We are ever so slowly realizing that we must begin to reclaim Agrarian Skills. God bless the locavores and the guerilla gardeners and the Victory Garden folks and the Obamas for putting in a vege garden and keeping bees! Anyone who thought Avatar was about colonization, think again. It’s a metaphor for what is happening NOW. That TREE *is* homemaking for children. You’re not old fashioned at all, my dear. You are cutting edge. ๐Ÿ™‚ Love, Kathryn xoxo

  24. Mmmmmmmmmm!!!! I couldn’t tell whether I wanted to eat the scones before they were baked or after. Looks absolutely scrumptious! And ahhhh our dear Angeles…her presence is always felt after spending time w/ her.
    Love to you & Antonia during this New Year! Are you enjoying the storm??
    Much Much Love~

  25. Hi, Cyndee! Nice to find you here this evening! Yes, Angeles is forever. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for the well wishes! Yes, grateful for the abundance of water coming to us. Happy New Year! Love, Kathryn xoxo

  26. Welcome, Adrian! Go to the kitchen! Make some now! ๐Ÿ™‚ Kathryn xoxo

  27. Great post! I’ve never made scones, although I’ve thought about do that for a long time! Hubby and I also bake and we love having those wonderful goodies in the freezer when the mood strikes. Thanks again for the great post!

  28. Welcome, Lynda! If you love to bake, I invite you to go ahead and try the scones! If you follow my photos and directions, you will find they are quite easy, especially if you are comfortable with doughs, and you will also find they are delicious! I love that you also have the practice of having something handy in the freezer! Such a smart thing to do! Glad you enjoyed the post. ๐Ÿ™‚ Kathryn xoxo

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