I love baking. I love putting on music and sifting flour and exploring new recipes. I like the way my go-to recipes can be mixed up in my sleep. Love how they feel like an old friend, familiar. I love a taste tester, ushering a friend into the kitchen and holding my breath while they bite into the latest muffin, cupcake, cookie, or pie.
I’ve gotten used to my go-to testers reactions. One who takes a second and then exclaims, “Liz. This is really good.” Another whose eyes give them away as they widen and with a mouth full of brownie will mumble an explicit. Another who slowly nods, calls me by my full name, and says “very good job.”
And of course, there is my go-to faux arrogance response of, “Your girl don’t miss!” complete with a happy dance around the kitchen. Sometimes I’ll launch into an explanation. I was out of this ingredient so I had to get creative. Or halfway through I realized I’d done something wrong so I improvised a little. Or this recipe actually is non-vegan and I just wanted to see if I could vegan-ize it. There’s always a story. Always an energy.
It’s become such a thing, this baking and testing and “girl don’t miss-ing,” that sometimes, it’s a necessary reminder that I do, indeed miss. In baking. In writing. In relationships. In life management.
I am reminded, immediately, of an ex-partner’s mother’s birthday and the cupcakes I was going to make for the occasion. I had used the incorrect flour and even though it didn’t seem quite right, I was determined to make it work. My usual taste testers lined up.
I knew they weren’t my best work. But still… how bad could it be?
Chokeable. That’s the word we all defined them as. The grainy, uncooked and yet overcooked feeling truly made it feel like no matter how much you chewed on the vanilla bean base it would never break down in your mouth, let alone digest in your stomach. It was somehow a brittle dry and a dense moist all at the same time. To put it lightly, it was a miss.
Boy was I devastated. How could I show up to an event without my signature tub of bakery items? I was supposed to be a good baker! It’s like months of excellent cookies and brownies and multi-tiered cakes were washed away by these terrible cupcakes.
Ah but we aren’t our worst cupcakes. And sometimes, even in our strongest pursuits, we do miss. Spectacularly so. And the question then isn’t whether we’re worthy of a mixing bowl and a cake carrier. But rather are we willing to recognize the errors, laugh it off, learn from the mistakes, and try again. Not just in the kitchen, but in every arena of our lives.