Monday, December 8, 2008

Gratitude Monday - The Sensual Pleasure of Baking

Cattails have such personality. The photo has nothing to do with today's post.

It’s almost normal weather here. It’s gotten cold and we’ve finally got a bit of snow on the ground.
Yes, let the record show I am happy to have snow on the ground. It’s December in Canada. We are supposed to have it.
Baking is a lot more fun when it’s cold. Mike made a Swabian Rum Cake on Saturday which has to be soaked in rum once it’s cooled. I baked panettone in the bread machine, rhubarb cake, and date squares (AKA matrimonial cake) also on Saturday.
A day of baking for the sheer joy and later enjoyment of it is one of life’s simple, beautiful pleasures.
It’s tactile in that ingredients are handled and stirred. It appeals to the aural sense in scraping sound of the mixing as well as satisfying sounds of chopping and the beep of stove and bread machine when the creation is ready to come out.
The olfactory sense can be joyously overwhelmed during preparation and baking. We who cook by feel often consult the gustatory sense during the process. It is always rewarded at the end.
I’m grateful for the normal weather and for the chance to enjoy it through the kitchen. Baking is a sensual pleasure at the best of times and much more so on a cold and wintry day.

20 comments:

tokaiangel said...

I love this post! One of the things I adore about Christmas is a chance to cook and bake at home. My mum and I spend ages planning the food for Christmas, it's so therapeutic and I find cooking with other people to be a very bonding experience.

Rum cake sounds delicious! I've never seen a panetonne, although they talk about them in the more middle-class supplements I aspire to(!!) - what is a pannetone exactly?

TA x

MizFit said...

hmm. I have been thinking this morning that I need to get into the spirit for my daughter.
I usually dont do much decorating or baking (for the holidays I mean) since hanukkah is such a minor holiday BUT Im now leaning toward blue and white lights and baking cookies shaped like dreidels.

Miz, who totally thinks she misspelled dreidle (?).

the Bag Lady said...

This makes me want to come to your house.
Cake soaked in rum? Yum.
And the smell must have been heavenly.....

Off to Google 'dreidle' now - thanks Miz!

the Bag Lady said...

dreidel.

Leah J. Utas said...

Tokaiangel, that sounds like a wonderful way to spend Christmas. You're right. Baking is therapeutic, and baking or cooking with others is a great way to express love.

Pannettone is a simple bread loaf with fruits and nuts. It's similar to Bishop's Bread, I think, if that helps.
The rum cake is pretty good. Instead of dried fruit for serving we used some canned fruit, sprinkled on some slice almonds, and I make some fake tofu sweet cream.

Hello MizFit, that sounds nice. I'm sure your daughter will appreciate it. I know very little about Hanukkah and even less about dreidels so I am intrigued.

dfBag Lady, we were posting together again. When may we expect you?
The house smelled so wonderful and it was incredible the way the fragrances melded.

Tom Rooney said...

Leah,

I think you forgot that one last sense of baking, and that's the sense of accomplishment and pleasing when you see smile on the persons face that gets to enjoy in the labor. :)

tokaiangel said...

FAKE TOFU SWEET CREAM - that sounds amazing!! How do you do it? (sorry I'm badgering you, I am burdened with a vegan and things like this are gold dust to me!)

Pannettone sounds kinda nice, I don't think we have anything really like it! I'm going to google images...

TA x

Crabby McSlacker said...

Personally, I'm more a fan of the eating than the baking, but I'm extremely grateful that the Lobster also enjoys baking like you do!

Hooray for people who love to bake!

Leah J. Utas said...

Excellent point, Tom. It gives a tremendous sense of accomplishment.

Tokaiangel, you need a block of plain tofu. I use 349 gr or 12.3 oz. Add to it about 1/4 cup of honey, or powdered sugar (is that caster sugar there?) or equivalent sweetener of your choice, and about two tsp of vanilla.( I don't measure.) Throw it all in a blender and mix the living daylights out of it. Set in container and put in fridge for several hours to let the flavours gather. Use in place of whipped cream. Thin it a bit if you like (even with water) and use as cream on cake and whatnot. Play with the recipe as you see fit.
(original recipe courtesy Leanand Luscious and Meatless, Bobbie Hinman and Millie Snyder, Prima Publishing, 1992)

Crabby, I'm a fan of eating it too. That's why I learned to bake.

Hilary said...

I don't dare bake, lest I eat. But, I wouldn't complain too much if I were soaked in rum whenever I cooled. As you pointed out. It's December in Canada. I'm cool. Bring on the rum. ;)

Leah J. Utas said...

Ahh, that would be good, Hilary.

Frank Baron said...

One of the things I miss most about my mother is the smell of her house in December. She would bake acres of goodies, some to eat now, some to be frozen for our Christmases. (We're Ukrainian.)

She died 14 years ago and it's been that long since I've been in a kitchen that smells of home baking. Wish you could bottle some Leah, and ship me a few sniffs. :)

Missicat said...

Cake + rum = heaven! :-)
I wish I baked more...especially this time of year!

Leah J. Utas said...

Oh, Frank I would if I could. I celebrated a Ukrainian Christmas at a co-worker's house once about 20 years ago. It was magnificent.

Missicat, maybe if you just added one baked thing. Of course, if you're like me it will lead to others.

bunnygirl said...

You can make panettone in a bread machine? Wow, all the more reason to hope Santa checks my wish list!

Leah J. Utas said...

Bread machines can do some amazing stuff, Bunnygirl. Mine claims the loaf it makes is called panettone. It's tasty. I added some sweet cicely(sp?) seeds (licorice flavour and wonderful straight off the plant)just because.

Reb said...

Mmm, baking...don't do as much these days, not enough people to eat it and I don't need to eat it all myself! That said, we (my friends & I) are making Lefse this year.

Leah J. Utas said...

Mmmmmm lefse mmmmm.
I don't need to eat all this baking either, but someone has to.

tokaiangel said...

Thanks so much Leah that actually looks simple and yummy too! Now I get to fight with Boy over whether we use real sugar (yes I believe your powdered sugar is our caster sugar!) or sweetner...

:0)

TA x

Leah J. Utas said...

Tokaiangel, have fun with the recipe. I'm glad I could help.