The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What does baking mean to you?

ericb's picture

What does baking mean to you?

I just finished reading a short essay by Sue Browning, in which she writes about her experience growing up baking bread with her grandmother. I loved reading about all the imagery that has remained with her throughout her life: her grandmother's kitchen; watching her grandfather plow the fields, the earth turning over like "black four;" taking a nap while the dough rests. The power of food over our memories never ceases to amaze me.

This got me thinking: what does baking mean for the members of TFL? I have my own story, but I will hold off sharing it until later. I would love it if you could share what baking means for you. How do you feel when baking? What images come to mind? Are you reminded of a particular time or place? Or is it simply a process with little emotional baggage, but one that lets you feed your family?

I can't wait to hear your answers! 


flourgirl51's picture

To me baking means comfort and creativity. I have been baking since I was 11 years old. When I share my baked goods it is like sharing a piece of myself. I am a real hands on type of person and enjoy taking a few ingredients and turning them into something that others can enjoy.

patnx2's picture

  When growing up  I lived in an Italian area. There was a family that had a pizza ,bread oven and they baked italian bread 2times a day. $ .11 and 15 for the large loaf. We as kids picked tomatoes,paid our 11 cents and made a hot "wedge" or hoggies. Still there in trying to make that loaf. Patrick

davidg618's picture

My grandmother's kitchen, with its smells of coal in the stove,  baking bread in the oven, or sausage frying on its hot, heavy steel surface, and a tiny Welsh woman managing it all, was, for me, a safe place. Thngs were not always quiet, nor predictable at home; they got worse as I grew through my teen years, but Grandma's kitchen was consistent: warm, smelly with good smells--even after she modernized with an electric stove--and safe. 

And I've always had hobbies, over the years photography--it put money in my pocket, and gained me status in high school. Wood carving: I bartered for quilts for my childrens' beds, and needlepoint hangings for our walls  with my wooden cats and chickadees, and a pieta bas relief I hated to part with, but the neighbor was a dear friend, a superb sewer, and a devout Catholic. The pieta belonged in her home, much more than mine. Sadly, her life ended much too early; my carving, and the Cub Scout racer I helped him make, rest side-by-side in her youngest son's home now. Now, retired, I dabble in woodworking.

Those hobbies have waxed and waned and sometimes waxed again, over six decades. Coincident, cooking and baking have been a constant,  my therapy of choice, even when I didn't know it was. My first successes were beef stew in a Dutch oven, and "bannock" in a cast iron skillet. The watery stew, and the blackened, doughy bannock earned me the Cooking Merit badge. I was twelve.

I've fond memories of fresh frogs' legs twitching in the pan, trout frying ten minutes from the stream, and my panned white bread finally looking, and smelling, and tasting almost like Grandma's. Welsh froice, doughnuts, cinnamon and sticky buns, birthday cakes, and Beef Wellington, Popovers, and Cherrys Jubilee on my wife's fortieth birthday are only a few of the memories that crowd. After months at sea, I'd bake every chance once I got home. The kids loved homecoming more for the doughnuts, than to see me. My best friend and I once made Baked Alaska in a Dutch oven to win a bet. The tricks: bake the cake in the Dutch oven, the usual way. Beat sugared eggs in a bowl with a wisk until your arms ache and soft peaks form, put the baked cake on the Dutch oven's upside down lid, load the ice cream, and meringue on top. Heat the the bottom of the Dutch oven in the fire until you can see the air wiggle around it, don your Welder's gloves, grab it, and quickly pop it, upside down onto the lid and its load. Five minutes, and the edges of the meringue are smoking.

I'm still saving memories. This past year my baking's gone to a new level: success with sourdough for the first time in my life, baguettes too, a new vocablary, a new set of tricks. Invitations to our dinner parties are never turned down, and I now take two or three loaves to our neighborhood potlucks, and at Christmas I send loaves and Welsh cakes to my childrens' families.

And I've joined a great community of home bakers, this one, The Fresh Loaf gang.


beautifuldisaster's picture

I am addicted to baking. At first I was scared to try, but now that I have, I'm hooked! I love the fact that not only is it relaxing and fun, I can have my cake (or bread) and eat it too!! :)



Feelin Crumby's picture
Feelin Crumby

Baking, for me, is a life-long history lesson. Born & raised in Maryland, my grandparents lived in North Carolina and in Mississippi. My few memories of both my Grandmothers are of baking -  - delicious dinner rolls in the Carolinas, and the best corn-bread ever in Mississippi. When I was grown I was stationed in La Maddelena, Italy and would walk down to the marina and buy a calzone made & baked on site in a wood-fired brick oven. Then I'd sit and eat and watch the people coming and going. For the last 15 years I've been steadily improving on my own bread-baking skills, and wherever I live it's sure to smell like fresh baked bread the majority of the time. With the 'rat-race' that is our world, baking keeps me grounded and in touch with the past. I consider it a priviledge to have the appreciation for it . . . both baking, and the past.

bohogal's picture

At this juncture in my life, bread baking means almost everything.  "Bread Therapy" is what I call it and it helps to keep me happy, balanced and grateful! As an art major in college, I believed in the process of creating and not so much the product of having created.  Perhaps that was because I couldn't eat my art!  Now that I've found bread, I get the process and the product.  What joy!