I have come to the point in this pandemic when I seem to be baking for the sake of baking rather than baking because I actually want to bake or am craving something sweet. For example, this past week, I made two types of pumpkin bread and have barely eaten either. The first bread required about half a can of pumpkin puree and, unwilling to let the other half go to waste, I decided to make my second bread shortly thereafter. While physically both breads turned out (more or less) as expected, the process and the outcome left something to be desired.
You can certainly have too much of a good thing. When I started baking it was a much-needed break from my routine that not only allowed me to engage in a fun activity, but also yielded sweet treats to enjoy for the next few days. After my first dalliances with sweet bread recipes, it became a tacit routine that twice a week I would spend an hour or two baking a bread, cake, or scone. Because I never made the same concoction twice, each little romp in the kitchen felt like a new experience. However, as I made baking a routine the pattern of mixing wet ingredients with dry ones, baking, and icing quickly started to lose its appeal.
Baking, what was once my escape from this pandemic madness, soon became part of the everyday humdrum. When I picked up the 15 oz can of pumpkin puree to make a bread instead of feeling excited, I felt like I was embarking on another chore. In fact, when I realized that my recipe would only require half the can of puree, I felt frustratedly compelled to make two pumpkin breads (i.e. undertake two chores).
As I mentioned at the top, these two breads remain largely untouched. My habit of baking meant that I committed to bake even when it did not make sense to do so. In late-May, I am craving more fruity, tropical flavors rather than the warm notes and seasonings of pumpkin that I associate with the colder months. Also, eerily enough, these breads don’t really taste so good; maybe the recipes are just missing the fabled ‘love’ ingredient.
Lest I risk wasting all the ingredients that sacrificed their shelf lives to make these half-hearted loaves, I resolved myself to slice up each bread and store them in the freezer for another time.
Having too much of a good thing is the surest way to discharge that thing of its inherent goodness. During the pandemic working from home every day has lost its shiny appeal and having time to pursue one’s hobbies can feel like a golden cage rather than liberation. Moderation is key. A 365-day vacation would likely make us long for the structure of work like ice cream every day for breakfast would make us salivate for crunchy toast and salty eggs. While I love baking, I most certainly overdid it this time. My sweet tooth has rotted, and I lust after fruits, vegetables, and frankly, cheese, at the moment.
Baking is fun, but I need a short break. To keep the precious things in life, we must treat them as if they are valuable. If I can bake every day, then baking is cheapened. However, if I limit myself to baking every once in a while, then I can forever look forward to the pursuit.
While routines can be helpful to get life on track, they can also take out some of the pleasure from the day. So, when it comes to good things, Dear Reader, let’s let them stay good by enjoying them in moderation.