PAD Day 11

The Nature of Baking

Baking is science and art. We know that.
Recipes now give grams instead of cups
and I should be okay with that, but I also know

that recipes lie. Aunt Jenny doesn't tell
how she used whole milk just like I don't tell
that I use coconut milk. I mean to, but I forget. 

The result is my bread has secrets. My cake too
will always be secret since it is an indulgence 
in hard times, but I will make it anyway 

and use what I have: the lemon bundt 
turns into orange, the sour cream 
to Greek yogurt, and change brings benefits,

making the cake protein-rich, practically healthy. 
Still, the process fills a hunger, not from stomach 
but soul-deep. Slicing off each cup of flour 

with a knife, beating sugar into butter, 
even the kneading done to create gluten, 
relies on reactions that without precision, 

go wrong. I learned this from recipes that lied. 
Working in the last two cups of flour taught me 
that six cups can be four and a half 

if the door is open wide and summer sifts
its heat through the screen. It's not summer though 
and I fill in with the oven and a pan of water

to give rising bread  the weather it needs.

Posted by

Author of the poetry collection The Tethered Ground and Professor of English at Missouri State University. Contact me for readings or for workshops on writing/publishing and on teaching writing online.

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