Last week, I baked muffins for the first time. I am not a baker. The only thing I ever really bake is my insanely delicious homemade banana bread. I don’t bake because baking is just too precise and rigid for me. This is in comparison to cooking where I have more flexibility and wiggle room to mess up my recipe and fix it with little cooking hacks. I can easily add more water if my food has too much salt & pepper or easily add more herbs or oil when needed. That is not the case with baking. Once you mess up a step while baking, It’s harder to make a comeback. I’ve had people totally redo recipes because they screwed up one step. I mean, If you forget to add baking soda or yeast, your dough won’t rise. haha.
My goal last weekend was to bake a birthday cake. Somehow, I miscalculated my time. I didn’t want to show up empty handed because I had already mentioned that I’d bring a homemade vegan cake (I do not like to disappoint people). So I settled for apple pie streusel muffins.
The baking process as you might have guessed wasn’t the smoothest. I mean, It was my first time. As a reflective person, I sat down to think about this whole baking process and what It taught me. Being that I now want to bake more, It makes sense to see what I learned from this experience and what I can do better. So here we go with some of the life lessons this little muffin baking process has taught me about life.
With my cooking, I am usually a “let’s just wing it” kinda chef. I don’t typically follow any recipe to the T, I know when to add my pepper and salt and water so I don’t really prepare beforehand. So I thought I’d do the same with baking. NOPE! It was a chaotic mess. At some point, I couldn’t even find my nutmeg powder jar or my vanilla extract bottle. So yeah, some things may be cool to just wing it in life, but being prepared trumps everything.
My first attempt at this muffins obviously isn’t the smoothest but I am a 1000% positive that I will get better at baking. When I first picked up my phone to take my first product photography as a blogger, I didn’t know what I was doing; but I got better. That is one lesson I have learned in life and one that was reinforced by this experience. I will get better, my baking will get better. Practice and patience are key here.
I cook; I don’t bake. I can develop recipes randomly and somehow it’ll taste good. But for the life of me, I can’t quite figure baking. While I’d love to bake more, I have to be okay with the fact that I am currently not just good at this, and that is perfectly okay. I may never be the next great baker and that’s perfectly okay too.
Baking muffins is fairly simple. Shoot, baking anything is simple. There are four basic ingredients: Salt, water, butter, Eggs (or flax/chai if you’re plant-based like me). The process of baking is fairly simple too. We complicate it- with many more ingredients, and not preparing ingredients beforehand. This turns out being a lot more stressful than it should’ve been. In this process, I learned to let simple things be simple. Don’t overcomplicate it.
As messy as my kitchen was by the time I was done baking, I still had to clean my mess. Though my sister was on the phone for emotional support (ha), I had to clean every single mess I made including the pumpkin spice I spilled on my white countertop when I assumed the huge jar to be my homemade almond butter jar. It reminded me that it’s okay to make mistakes, It’s okay to fall. When you do, you’ll have to find the strength to fix it and do what it takes to be better.
I think I was expecting baking to be like cooking where I’d run back and forth from the pantry when I need to add my salt, pepper, herbs, and spices so I didn’t measure out my ingredients beforehand. This caused me so many mistakes: I let my baking soda sit for too long. I used too much plant milk, my chia seeds didn’t sit out long enough to make eggs. But guess what? It all came together. The muffins came out perfectly and tasted delicious. A reminder that no matter how messy and chaotic the process may seem, It will all make sense one day. If you’re a Christian like me, then you have hope to hold onto that truly God has great plan for us.
My initial plan was to bake a chocolate vegan cake. Then I forgot that the cake needs a few hours/a day to actually sit and firm up. I had only 3 hours (haha a mess). So I settled for the muffins. I wasn’t very happy about the decision and I went into it totally blind and unsure what to expect. But I chose to do it anyways. I found happiness doing this; so much so that I look forward to baking again this weekend.
I screwed up so many steps while baking this muffin. I almost gave up- literally thought “I’ll just tell them I couldn’t bake it”, but I powered through. I didn’t let the mistakes stop me or the muffins. haha.
I could’ve easily settled on ordering a cake or muffins from whole foods. I thought about it when I realized I didn’t have enough time. Choosing to actually take muffins to people- the first muffins I have ever baked- was a risk I had to take. There was no certainty that the muffins would turn out great, I honestly was incredibly nervous that it would be an absolute mess. But I took the risk and I’m glad I did. First, it was great to show people that vegan desserts can be just as good. Secondly, It taught me all of these lessons.
So yeah! I think I have reached that level in life where I find beauty and lessons in little things. Oh, the beauty of living slowly.