Friday, March 10, 2006

Start Baking Today!

Baking is something fun and simple to get started in as a hobby. Serious baking can be challenging, but to get started, you just need to know the basics. First you will need to decide what you want to bake. Perhaps you just want to start out making your basic sugar cookies. That works well. You also may want to consider baking cakes from scratch. Both of those ideas are wonderful jumping off points for baking.

You will need to gather the basic supplies. You should invest in a good round baking pan or cookie sheet. If you are going to be doing serious baking, then you need good equipment. My baking only consists of a bath of cookies here and there, but my grandmother is very serious about her baking fetish. She bakes constantly, and she always says that it is an area where getting the cheap stuff is a bad idea.

So once you have a pan, you will to be sure that you have good mixing bowls and some nice potholders. Now is the time to treat yourself. Sure, you have potholders for your regular cooking, but get yourself something cute for baking.

You should begin by giving yourself plenty of time. Do not try baking on a day when you have a lot of other things going on, or you can get frustrated. When you are starting out, you should make the cookies from scratch from a simple recipe. Start with sugar cookies. When you are going the cake route, start with a basic yellow cake. You can expand outward and even begin to play with the recipes once you have practiced getting the basics down to an art.

For example, after you have learned to make sugar cookies, you can try adding chocolate chips or even raisins. Then you can begin experimenting with flavors. Also try eating some of the cookies plain when you first get started. Then add sprinkles, icing, and the like to them for fun. You will need to learn how to make good icing as well. Although you can get icing from the store, there is nothing like a good homemade icing for a tasty treat.

You probably will find, like many bakers, that this hobby is addicting! Every time you are asked to bring something, your first thought will be that you could bring some of your cookies or cakes. Then people will begin to expect it. You will think about your baking all the time and want to try out new things. Although your family probably will love that you have picked up a delicious hobby, their waists will not like it so much.

Experiment with healthy baking. Try out sweeteners instead of sugar. Try fruit-based baked goods instead of always just going with the chocolate sweets.

Also plan to give away your baked goods. People really love baked products at Christmastime. They think it is wonderful to get something that someone worked hard on. While you can definitely give out your treats at Christmas, you should give them out year round. Think about a nursing home where you could offer your goodies. You can make up a few batches and wrap them up in little plastic bags with cute ribbons on them. Take them to the people there and spend a little time with them. They will enjoy the time you are spending as well as the cookies.

When your child has something at school, offer to take a homemade cake. Make them for your family members for their birthdays. Take them to shut-ins through your church or to people who are homebound temporarily because of an accident.

Baking is one of the tastiest hobbies you can have. Spending some time baking will help you realize that you can make something wonderful with a little love added in. Baking is relaxing. You are taking the time to work on something for someone else, and that makes almost everyone feel good. Once you begin baking, you will find that there are endless experiments. The best part is that baking from scratch can be inexpensive, and since you are using your goods for gifts that you would purchase anyway or for your family to eat, you will not be wasting money.

By Julia Mercer

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