Baking Philosopher Project

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As long as I can remember, I loved to cook. Baking, however, intimidated me with its strange bipolar rhythm between energetic beating, whisking, rolling, folding and patient waiting to heat, cook and cool. But mostly, what scared me is its insistence on measurement. Recently, I’ve come to rethink baking as architecture. Baking is a measured combination of flour and air, just like architecture is a measured experience between structure and space. The quality our experiences related to both is enhanced by color/flavorings, comfort/fat and texture/grains. The comparison is not mine alone. In reading the textbook Onbaking: a textbook of baking and pastry fundamentals (Sarah R. Labensky, Eddy van Damme, Priscilla Martel and Klaus Tenbergen), I found this quote by Marie-Antoine Careme (1783-1833)

THE FINE ARTS ARE FIVE IN NUMBER, NAMELY: PAINTING, SCULPTURE, POETRY, MUSIC AND ARCHITECTURE, THE PRINCIPAL BRANCH OF THE LATTER BEING PASTRY.

Maybe I can learn to love baking too. So the next few months, I’ll be working on philosophically developing practical appreciation. As you can tell, I got the book. Not much research in that, just ordered a used textbook (new textbooks are very expensive!). I’ll be following onbaking for this project. The first five chapters cover history, equipment, principles, ingredients and such. I’ll start posting at chapter 6 Quick Breads.  Here’s my five reasons for doing this:

  1. Given all the information and support available online I should be able to teach “myself” to bake. It’s a DIY exercise of teaching and learning. There is nothing like having an experienced baker’s tastebuds and skills…which brings me to my second reason.
  2. I don’t have money to spend on baking school. If I win the lottery, it’ll be top on my list.
  3. I want to treat this as a radical philosophy project. In What It’s Like to Be a Thing, philosopher Ian Bogost calls us all to be hybrid philosophers. This is my attempt to be a philosopher-baker, by which I bring thoughtful attention to the practice and all its magic. What would it mean to live philosophically, to bake and cook philosophically?
  4. On a mommy level, I want to be able to send my baby in college yummy treats. Baked goods are tasty pieces of love that travel well, unlike my cooking.
  5. Now that I’ve publicly announced this project, I’ll have to be accountable for myself. Nothing like, guilt and shame to sustain a project. Okay…fine….for you positive people out there…yes, I’m talking to you Jim…..Support. Hopefully, I’ll have your support to continue on this tasty adventure. If you want to join me online in this baking project, please do. Go through any baking book you have on hand. If you live near me, you know who you are…come over.

Let the BAKINGPHIL PROJECT, Begin! First, the three mixing methods: biscuit, muffin and creaming. Next time: The muffin method of mixing used in cream scones. I start here because my sister teases me mercilessly about the “hockey-puck” scones I made loooooong ago (literally 25 years ago). She hasn’t forgotten. I shall have my vindication! Didn’t I say, baked goods ship well. Hmmmm.

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