Whew. It’s been a busy few weeks for me.
Right after Christmas comes a whole whack-load of birthdays in my social circle which inevitably means a lot of parties, cards, and in my case, baking. I used to be really into making birthday cakes for people, and it was actually some friends and co-workers who suggested that I start blogging about the baking I do in my spare time.
When I mean that I was really into it, I mean I started making lists of people’s favourite cakes because, why not? It was fun and thoughtful to shower attention like that on someone, and it was an exciting opportunity for me to try a new recipe. (Kind of like how I totally made one up on the fly here.)
But something kind of…happened along the way. I don’t know what it was. Maybe I was tired from the sheer effort of turning out birthday cakes all the time. Maybe it had started to feel like a chore. But I stopped doing it for a long while. I told myself that it was too much trouble, and no one really appreciated it anyway.
This recent bevy of birthdays, however, made me reconsider my cake hiatus and after much cajoling from my co-workers I ended up making a key lime pie (my boss’ favorite) for our office lunch for his birthday.
I was pretty nervous for two reasons: one, I hadn’t made a pie in a while, let alone a cake. Two: I may have felt a teensy need to impress my boss. This was starting to feel like a pretty momentous occasion in my amateur baking career.
Not going to lie: it was a little bit of a disaster. A key lime pie doesn’t travel well if you’re walking to work, and storing it in an office mini-fridge (as I have discovered) is a big no-no. The results were drippy, and not at all pretty. But all of the office unanimously declared it was delicious, even poor Lucy who told me she had choked back every bite (she doesn’t like lime-flavored anything).
Not every recipe will turn out perfectly every time and that’s just a fact of life. But this enormous pressure I had put on myself to be this picture-perfect Pinterest chef had taken away the enjoyment of baking. I was baking because I felt like I had a set a precedent of always being the girl who baked the cakes. I had lost sight of why I love baking in the first place- to share good food with people I love. (It’s also a big stress reliever. Did I mention that?)
In the end I discovered that decision whether or not to bake something had always been my choice. The moment I felt more in control was the moment I felt the urge to do it again. Sure, this time I only dipped my toe in by making a key lime pie, and not a cake. But spring is coming, and there are a lot more birthdays coming up. Another colleague has already put in a request for his birthday.
The best part is that I’m enjoying it again. I’m doing something that I love not because I’m an excellent baker, but because it’s something that I do for myself.
I just use other people’s birthdays as an excuse.
Feeling inspired to start baking again? Here are some recipes to get you started. You’re welcome. I still can’t stopping pinning recipes to Pinterest, though, despite my efforts to be easier on myself and take my baking less seriously.
Cakes pictured above are (from top left): Lucy’s Chocolate Chocolate Cake; Chocolate Berry Cake (featured on Instagram); Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Cake; Shannon’s Strawberry Cake and Key Lime Pie (not featured).