I don’t know if I’ve told you this, but when I’m stressed out, I bake. Sometimes cookies or bread, but more often than not, I bake complex items that take on lives of their own. Dishes with several well-timed steps that take hours to bake, chill, whip and beat into submission. It’s like choosing a geometric theorem over simple addition; it takes every ounce of concentration, so there’s no room in my brain to fret and run my worries over and over like a hamster wheel.

So, when I’m stressed out, I bake. This is why I have a platter of chocolate mousse in my refrigerator, why I have a tiny mountain of scones in Tupperware on my counter, why I have a bowl full of clotted cream on the shelf above the mousses.

I don't have the right ramekins for mousse because do I look like I'm made of money?

I don’t have the right ramekins for mousse because do I look like I’m made of money?

Now, I know what you’re thinking: chocolate mousse? That’s not so hard to make. Fold Cool-Whip and meringue into melted chocolate. Voilá. But this assumption is false.

If you know me at all, you know that I did not Google “chocolate mousse recipes” and make a simple one from Cooking Light or Allrecipes. If you know me at all, you know I pulled out my French cookbook (I always bake French pastries when I’m exceptionally frazzled, because they are fantastically complicated and exceptionally delicious – plus, then I can pretend I’m in a Parisian cafe instead of my overly-warm Los Angeles bungalow) and entangled myself in a two hour frenzy of chocolate-infused pastry cream, whipping cream, freshly-shaved chocolate curls and complicated meringue.

I admit it. I’m a bit of a food snob. I can’t help it: I took baking classes, which automatically raises the level of my palate’s expectations. Also, I think the month I spent in France ruined me for life. All these factors work against me when it comes to gustatory preference. I’m just the victim here.

So anyway, I have a fridge full of chocolate mousse. Once I finished the mousse, I took the clotted cream I accidentally made (I whipped the first batch of cream too much, and that is the fascinating science behind clotted cream) and instead of throwing it away, I decided to make scones for breakfast. This was a great idea! I could keep baking, putting off the negative thinking patterns, and also have food other than oatmeal for breakfast tomorrow.

This is how I spent my Friday night; sweating in my poorly-ventilated kitchen, wallpapered in alternating layers of flour, sugar crust and lumps of chocolate pastry cream. This is how I forgot about my broken-down car, my joblessness, bills I cannot pay, houses I cannot afford, a career I still yearn for but can’t have, and a glass of Cabernet I also yearn for but cannot have. Unlike 99.9% of my writing, with baking at least there’s a result on which I can rely.

Take that, universe.

At least there's mousse in the fridge.

At least there’s mousse in the fridge.



Baking on a Friday Night — 34 Comments

  1. My wife is Le Cordon Bleu trained chef but can’t bake that well. My teenager is a self taught baker and can do pretty much any dessert. I never realized the talents that go into stuff in the kitchen because I don’t care about food. It’s pretty interesting.
    Lance recently posted…ChangesMy Profile

  2. A) Can I come over!?! All of that sounds DELISH. B) As with your clotted cream, I’ve found some of my best creative masterpieces are the result of me fixing something that was originally a mistake (eg the khaki pants I hemmed, accidentally made into capris, then reattached the bottom part- I get a lot of compliments on the unconventional placement of the midcalf seam). And C) I totally get the urge to do something meditative to combat stress. For me, it tends to be exercise.
    Pam recently posted…Listen To Your Mother- Why?My Profile

  3. The treats sound delicious, and I admire that you can do something so productive when stressed. I am the opposite. I sink into a ball of laziness and can get nothing done.

  4. I can’t quite decide whether what I had here was a foodgasm at the idea of all those French pastries (incidentally, thank GOODNESS you’re a food snob, because you might be precisely the ONLY PERSON who knows what clotted cream is, and that it’s not something akin to sneeze) or a wordgasm at your use of ‘gustatory’ – I almost felt the neurones firing off at that one!
    Considerer recently posted…Ten Things of Thankful #48My Profile

  5. Culinary vocabulary is delicious.

    I love chocolate mousse. I am more likely to eat it when I am stressed than to make it. I have 5 cookbooks: three different editions of The Joy of Cooking and the other two are Mediterranean. I rarely use any of them.

    When I want something French to eat, I go to a little French cafe.

    When I am stressed, I need to replace my thinking with something else that uses language – reading, TV, or radio. Chocolate helps, too.
    Robin recently posted…Ugly Naked NeighborMy Profile

  6. I haven’t had chocolate mousse in years, but now I’m on a mission to find some. Too bad you don’t live closer 🙁 I guess I’m going to have to make my own.

    P.S. Cooking and baking are very soothing for me as well. It’s true what you said about there being no room left in the brain to fret.
    Karen recently posted…GoosebumpsMy Profile

  7. What an absolutely delicious way to forget about your anxiety for awhile. I think I may have to go buy myself a french cookbook. My go-to cookbook lately has been The New Basics, and while the recipes are delicious, they aren’t overly complicated. And sometimes a girl just needs a complicated dessert to make. I totally get it.
    Samantha Brinn Merel recently posted…First Deck Day, 2014My Profile

  8. I love that you do something so complex to erase the other complexities in your life! You can come over and bake for me any time you want. I’m not a baker. My grandmother was though. Sigh, wish we still had her recipes!

    You have inspired me though, I may try a mousse sometime!
    Jen Brunett recently posted…Who Am I?My Profile

  9. I bake every once in a very great while and it is never simple. It is as if I save up my desire and have to turn it into a complicated all day event. It is usually something for Paul. (I know food is a metaphor for love and I’ve got it bad 🙂

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