I've been baking ever since I can remember.
I have this memory of watching my grandmother, Edwina, toiling away in her kitchen as she made croissants. She'd move around slowly, but the motions were so familiar to her that she could do it with her eyes closed. I remember hearing her whistle. But her age had caught up to her and made whistling harder, so it wasn't really whistling. It was more like she was softly blowing air as she rolled out the dough and folded it just right. She always put golden raisins in the dough, which I hated, but they were what made her croissants so special. Those croissants were fantastic, especially fresh out of the oven. I'd tear my open, watching the steam rise out before quickly smothering the bun in butter.
When I sit down and really think about it, some of my best memories revolve around baking. Enjoying a special birthday cake hand made by my mother, my very first date with the first man I ever loved involved us baking cookies together, or finally getting a chance to share recipes with my grandmother.
Baking is one of the best ways I know how to communicate. I show people that I love them and care about them by baking them their favorite treats. My little brother's favorite cake is Red Velvet, and I make sure that I'm there to make one for him every year. I bake when I'm sad, or when I'm stressed. And I bake when I'm happy. Sometimes words just aren't enough, but a warm cookie is.
Here's an embarrassing story. One of my first big jobs in LA was as a Production Assistant on a reality show. During production the Executive Producer had his birthday, and I decided I would surprise him with a cake. So just to be clear, I was the the absolute lowest person on the totem pole at that show. And the EP is pretty much as high as it gets when you're out in the field. So his birthday comes around. I stay up the night before making a marble bundt cake, which I knew to be his favorite. I kept it hidden under my desk until lunchtime when everyone stopped down to eat. Then suddenly, we're all in the EP's office, singing him Happy Birthday. And guess who comes storming in with balloons and a marble bundt cake in hand?
Not me. Because the cake I made was still sitting under my desk. This new baker was my bosses fiance' and he had also stayed up all night making a bundt cake for the EP's birthday.
I sheepishly went to my desk and grabbed the cake I had made, and presented it to my boss with my tail between my legs. I was so embarrassed. I know I looked like a total suck up, and in retrospect it's pretty weird that I stayed up and made a cake for someone who I'd only met a month prior. Luckily everyone was very nice about it, but I still cringe thinking about how that must have looked.
I have really happy memories that involve baking though. In fact they are the majority.
In high school I joined forces with one of my best friends, Devin, and created "The Josie and Devin Cake Factory." This came about one night when we were hanging out and wanted to eat some cake. We found a box mix and quickly threw it together. Apparently that was enough for us to start a business so we also made this logo.
But we didn't stop there. We made SO MANY cakes. We even made the switch from boxed cake mix to making cakes from scratch. So many cakes. So many that we didn't even know what to do with them. So we started bringing them to school. Devin and I went to different high schools, so I don't know exactly what went down where she was, but it was pure madness at my school. I'd show up with a cake in a cute little container, and I'd bring a box of plastic forks. When lunchtime came around everyone would cram around the table and wait. I'd ceremoniously reveal my creation and watch as my peers absolutely demolished it.
They never even bothered slicing it. It was chaos, and a memory from high school that makes me smile every time I think about it. I brought cakes in all the time, so many times that I started getting requests. One of my friends wanted a cake for when he finally reached his goal of benching 180 lbs. I also got roped into making a cake for football fans when their teams won. For my birthday one year, Devin made a rainbow layer cake and brought it to me during lunch. She got to see the pandemonium that was cake lunch that day.
It was insane and I loved every minute of it.
I wish I had more pictures to share with you, and I wish the ones I did have didn't look so blurry and awful. Luckily I'm much better at photographing my baked goods now. And every week I get to share them with you on this blog. Which, by the way, is now another wonderful baking memory I have to store in my arsenal. 4 months ago I started a blog where I could share my recipes and my thoughts, and I never could have imagined how fulfilling it would turn out to be. I love reading your comments and messages, and interacting with you on twitter and periscope. I can't wait to keep sharing with you, and I hope you all have something in your life that makes you as happy as baking makes me.
I guess I love baking so much because it reminds me of my favorite people. And it reminds me of the beautiful times I've shared with those people.
Wanna watch me bake? Join me on Periscope this Sunday @ 11 am PST. Find me by searching @josievorenkamp