"Jeez. Is there anything you can't make?"
I'd love to be able to say, "Of course there is...." but I wouldn't have anything to follow-up with after the beginning of that sentence. Ever since I can remember, when I was handed something, (whether it be a homework problem, a sport challenge, or a recipe) I could usually figure out how to make it work in the end. Frustrations would rise, tears may have fallen, but in the end I made it work. And that's how baking has always been for me.
I find a recipe, either slightly challenging from an oldy-but-goody, or extremely new and exciting, and I just have at it. I don't expect perfection, I crave it. When it comes to baking, all bets are off. I feel safe when I work the dough through my hands, adding each ingredient in its perfect amount, at just the right time. All the problems of my own personal world can be solved while the blender is on and I'm scraping the sides of the bowl.
Brown sugar makes me smile. It's sweet and mysterious. But I don't think that's why I love it. I think it's because of how many different ways it can be used. You can toss it on a peanut butter sandwich to make it a dessert. You can throw it on top of a cookie to caramelize in the oven. You can make butterscotch candies in about ten minutes. And who doesn't love butterscotch? It's such a simple ingredient, but it demands the right amount of attention. Too much and you end up getting a crunch on your cookie (is that what she said?), too little and you might as well have never added it in. Brown sugar may be subtle when baked into a recipe, but it'll kick your recipes ass if you don't watch out. Sweet, but fierce. Yeah, that's why I love it.
And cinnamon too. Man I loveeee me some cinnamon. Warm in flavor, it adds just the perfect amount of home we all crave when we bite into a cookie. Sometimes I see the questioning look in a person's eyes just before they bite into one of mine. Slightly skeptical of whether or not the cookie will hold up to their mother's old recipe from way-back-when. But it's usually the cinnamon that brings them home. There's a small change in flavor that takes place, and it starts something new with whoever is chowing down. A little affair never hurt anyone, right? Well, not really...but with finding new cookies I think it's safe to say Moms won't be hurt.
I may bake to bring smiles, but I mostly bake for myself-- for the challenge, for the relaxation, for the time to myself. It's my one time to shine, where I know I won't screw up, where there's no pressure. It's just me, a few sticks of butter and the intuition my grandmothers bestowed upon me. So here I sit, putting off my French literature paper while I dream about the butterscotch cookies I'm about to make. Maybe I'll even figure out a way to find world peace. Wouldn't that be quite the challenge?
Peace, love, and butterscotch morsels in my mouth.