Profiterole or Loss?
Baking is in my blood. I once wrote the poem:
My Grandpa was a baker.
He’d hold a pie tin in one hand
And knife in the other.
the pie tin
while shaving the edges.
Soft dough shapes fell to the floor.
A tidy pie was put in the oven.
Like half-kneaded dough,
My stomach lay in wrinkly folds.
Stretched and puckered
Pallid and void.
Oh, to be spun like a dusty pie
To slice, slice, slice –
And watch the soft folds fall to the floor.
Apart from inheriting a tummy that looks like an uncooked steak pie, that’s really the beginning and the end of the baking in the blood. I am not famed for my Victoria sponges. Or anything else in the baking line. Expecially pancakes. Not that they technically even count as baking.
I have to say though, I have enjoyed “The Great British Bake-Off” for the last wee while. I even put a moratorium on the ban on TV so I could watch it. I concentrated the series into just a couple of evenings and so had a crash course in all things baking-related.
Great show: varied contestants, challenging challenges, Mel and Sue presenting (giving me a comforting flashback to my illness and recuperation after the shigella flexnor fiasco – when I used to watch them on “Light Lunch” which was the high-point of the daytime TV day in 1997…)
To top it all were the very visually striking Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood as the expert judges. And what great names too! Mary sounding like a little-known garnish and Paul, with what has to be one of the coolest surnames in the world! All the while Mary gave me flashbacks to Helen Daniels from the early days of Neighbours – and Paul’s hair? Fascinating!
So, after a cook-school in baking, I find myself wanting to whip up a tarte au citron, or a batch of mille feuille, or some traffic-light macaroons, or a battenberg cake…. none of which I will ever get around to.
Why would I want to?
As I near “No”-vember, when I traditionally cut back on all things delicious, so that sufficient cheese can be consumed over the festive season, why oh why would this be a good time to learn to bake?
I was inexcusably at the local baker’s shop today. I hang my head in shame as I confess that I bought three sausage rolls and two scotch pies. Then, as I went to pay, the lady, after she had brought to my attention the special offer on iced doughnuts (two-for-a-pound) and I had successfully not bought any, said, “Do you want anything else?”
And how are you supposed to answer that? – faced with delicious seeded breads, danish pastries, apple pies, biscuits and cakes sitting there? I mean like, “Yes”, I want something else! But no, I am feeling wretched enough with the tasty snacks I already have in my rucksack… so we made it out of the shop, without even so much of an extra as a premature Hallowe’en iced bat.
All of a sudden I am sucked into a replay of Wallace and Gromit’s “A Matter of Loaf and Death” when the villainess blames her murderous rampage on the baking industry as she yells, “A curse on bakers and their pies and confections!”
So saying, I have baked some things in life. I made some totally brilliant Challah when I was learning about the Sabbath at school, and I went through a phase of banana loaf at the same time as I went through a phase of buying too many bananas and no one eating them thus leaving me with a banana surplus and only one ethically robust way to get rid of them.
I know that my urge to buy baking accessories will pass. I have sufficient to make banana loaf should the circumstances present themselves.
But the croquembouche will perhaps yet be some time in the making.