Monday, December 28, 2009

Baking My Angst Away

Hi.  It's me again. 

Sorry to bother you so late, but I really need to talk.  I know you must be tired from a long day and that this kind of violates our protocol, but if I can just get a few minutes of your time. 

You see, or rather you hear, my son will not sleep.  He just won't rest and is up every 2 - 3 hours and the kid is 20 months old already and YES, YES, I KNOW!  He's probably teething.  We've talked about this before.  It doesn't change the fact that my husband and I are becoming zombie mental cases with attitudes.  And YES, I KNOW - he's just a little boy, but that does not ease my circadian rhythms none, understand?  Oh, and yeah, I took an extra pill, I even almost gave him one.  It doesn't seem to help either of us sleep.

Anyway, we're up again, cruising the kitchen for some comfort.  The mixer makes too much noise and I am afraid I might hurt him if I go near the food processor. So I stand before you, my devoted and loyal oven, for a little comfort and plea for patience.

Nothing soothes my rumpled and crumpled soul like baking.  Now with cooking, you add a little of this, a little of that and poof, you get dinner.  But baking is a much more precise process.  Of course you can improvise, as can an acrobat cycling across the high wire. But like that trained performer you best know what you're doing.  An extra 5 minutes is the difference between caramelized and burned.  Too much flour and you'll need a hacksaw to cut through your work.  And then there is the tricky business of the egg white, cream, and yeast.  

But the rewards of baking are far greater than the sum of the final product.  It is the process that relaxes my body like a shiatsu massage.  Rough day?  Start kneading bread.  Too much going on?  Zest a lemon.  The physical acts of baking are repetitive and require confidence, both of which calm me in a storm.  And then there is the comfort in knowing that when I slowly cook egg yolks with sugar, it will turn into custard, or if I keep beating heavy cream it will whip into a delicious treat.  I can count on it as sure as the sun will rise and the tide will come in.  

Anyway, my son won't sleep.  He is teething or growing or evil or something.  It doesn't really matter why anymore, what matters is that we are exhausted.  And I am on the edge.  So the other morning, when duty wailed, I took him down to the kitchen with me, gave him a bottle of milk, and started baking.  Nothing fancy mind you; I can't deal with a pastry bag at 2 am.  But I made a fantastic banana bread that I've been perfecting for a few weeks now.  As I chopped the chocolate and smashed the bananas, I felt lighter and my anger eased gradually.  By the time it came out of the oven I was feeling zen like and hungry.  My son quickly gobbled it down and went back to sleep shortly thereafter.  

This simple recipe comes from Elana's pantry, a great gluten free site.  My adapted version is below.  Happy baking.

Shut Up And Go To Bed Banana Bread

3 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup agave
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
3 eggs, whisked
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 - 3 mashed bananas
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate or 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Combine almond flour, salt, baking soda and sugar in a large bowl
  3. In a separate bowl, combine agave, oil, eggs, and vanilla
  4. Mix wet ingredients into dry. Add banana and chocolate.
  5. Add batter to a greased and floured 9 inch cake pan
  6. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes. Note: If you are using a convection oven, test the cake after 25 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and cool

Image: federico stevanin /

1 comment:

  1. Oh that's hard! Well, your solution is more productive than mine: lying on the baby's floor with my eyes closed "resting" while she crawls on me and pokes at my eyelids.