Question: Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
Ever since I was young, I have been exceptionally fascinated by the science of baking. Although we most often take this for granted in our daily lives, it is astonishing how much it is a part of us every day. We wake up to a cup of coffee and have cookies along with it, breakfast generally consists of baked muffins or croissants most of the time, and our dinners typically include a variety of baked items like bread rolls. And needless to say, dessert can consist of a multitude of cake varieties, fruit pies, among other goodies.
Therefore, it can be clearly seen why this topic captivates me so much. As a school going kid, I would watch my grandmother patiently measuring out quantities of flour, butter, sugar, essences, eggs, fruits, and other ingredients, gently mixing them with a wooden spoon with a serene expression on her face, pour the batter into a greased baking tin, then place carefully in a pre-heated oven, carefully setting a manual or sand-timer. And off she would go, doing her other daily chores. However, when the timer went off, she would rush back to the oven, and using baking mittens, carefully taking out the cake from the oven, which was perfectly formed, risen, golden in color, and filled with aromas. She would do this with so much consistency that every time she would bake, the same result ensued.
This is the power of the science of baking, which is a result of a combination of exact measurements, ingredients, specific mixing process, accurate baking temperature, all done in an unhurried manner, to achieve consistently perfect products. Simply observing this science makes me forget the world, albeit for a short while. This is perhaps the most therapeutic and calming work, which, once learned and mastered, is extremely addictive and also inspires you to learn more intricate recipes, use complex cookbooks from proven bakers and chefs.
Whenever I wanted to learn more, there was only one person I have always turned to – it was my grandmother. Even though she passed away almost a decade ago, her legacy lingers on, in the many neatly hand-written recipe cards, dusty note-books filled with detailed recipes of her tried and tested creations which were appreciated by all who were privileged to taste her baked delicacies. I am certain that she would be extremely proud of her grandchild for carrying forward her legacy and utilizing her talented recipes to carry on the family tradition, with a passion I earlier thought only she possessed, only to find that I also inherited the same zeal, even though she is not alive to bear witness to the same.
I ensure that I create the exact replica of her preparations, adding some modern twists and tweaks, just to add my creativity to her scientific and traditional approach. The result is always spectacular, and everyone swears that I have mastered the science of baking as well as her. That is probably the best compliment I can ever receive!