Crawford: Here’s why you should start baking

Colin Crawford, Columnist

If you were to glance at my Instagram Explore page, sprinkled in among the Mariah Carey edits and the Stranger Things memes, you would find a good number of food videos. Skewing sweet, these videos are mostly focused on baked goods. I love to bake, and whenever I come home from school it’s one of the first things I want to do. This past week, I made use of having a real kitchen for the first time in months; I got to baking. 

I started with a simple summer classic: strawberry pie. It’s a refreshing, sweet and delicious treat. I pestled the strawberries and mixed them on the stove with water, sugar and cornstarch to create the filling. I then spooned it into my pie crust that had been precooked in the oven and topped it with Cool Whip. 

I’m sure the first-person pronouns reveal baking is something I enjoy doing alone. 

My humble culinary creations are always a welcome source of comfort, especially when I’m feeling moody or upset. The kitchen allows me to calm down and focus, and the end result is always a special reward for me to gobble up. 

When I’m baking I get to be in complete control, which is why I suggest it as a hobby to everyone. There will always be situations where you feel helpless or unable to make effective change, but baking can help change your mindset by forcing you to improvise and make the most of what you have.

For example, when I was making corn muffins one time I discovered that my lactose intolerant family did not have regular milk anywhere in the house. I used yogurt as a substitute because it was what we had that fit the profile I needed in an ingredient. 

Not only does it help clear your mind, but you also get something delicious to eat at the end. 

Baking doesn’t have to be hard, and like any other skill, it takes practice before you can attempt something restaurant-worthy. To date, the fanciest thing I have probably ever made is a hazelnut chocolate cheesecake. 

I also recommend baking for the sense of accomplishment you feel after making something that tastes good, not just for yourself, but for others as well. 

But there is a caveat – I firmly believe that baking is a hobby that, for the majority of people, should stay a hobby. When I tried to make a side-hustle baking business, I became stressed about output and quality. I wasn’t making something for me or for people I knew, it was for customers. Baking became a time-consuming activity that began to feel like something I had to do, not something I wanted to do. 

After the demise of my online bakery, I went back to my bread and butter, if you will, of just making desserts for people I am close to. 

As a child, baking was my first foray into independence. Looking back on it now, my age was probably why I first chose to develop my baking skills. I was probably just excited about the chance to eat tons of desserts. 

I learned how to make something out of nothing, and even though I was alone in the kitchen, I wasn’t scared. Whenever I was making a new recipe, something would inevitably go wrong. But, I learned how to patch mistakes in real time and move forward. This problem solving helped me realize that whatever was bothering me that day was really insignificant and nothing that couldn’t be solved by a bit of sugar. 

You should start baking, not only because of the tasty treats you will create, but because of the lessons you can learn and the experiences you can share. 

Colin Crawford is a Medill freshman. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.