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.