If you follow me on Instagram and Twitter you might have seen me announce that I don’t bake anymore. If you didn’t know, now you know.
If you never even knew I was ever a baker then let me give you a little backstory.
In high school, I used to bake cakes and cupcakes. My baking capabilities were reputable and my red velvet and chocolate cupcakes were my best sellers. My cupcakes would always sell out first at bake sales and I was requested by friends, family, and random strangers to bake for whatever special occasion they had planned. Baking was my thing and I was really good at. I still am, but the emotions and circumstances behind it have changed.
It was fun to bake in high school because to me, baking was an escape from the general bullshit of life at the time such as academics and social drama. Not only was baking my main release of stress but it seemed like eating my cupcakes at school had the same effect on the students and teachers. Yes, my baked goods were very delicious and everybody likes sugar but it felt like more than that. It felt like a break from the horrors of school. A distraction from that Science cycle test that ate you alive and spat you back out or a reward for surviving that double Accounting lesson that had you so bored you could literally peel your own eyelids off to feel something. When you felt like you couldn’t take it anymore, a tiny red sponge with cream cheese icing would come your way and all of a sudden you see this light. A little piece of sugary joy that kinda made everything feel a little better. My baking was a sweet break from the reality we had to deal with at school. My baking played that role in high school and I had no problem facilitating it because I too found joy in bringing others joy in an otherwise joyless environment.
Come 2016, last year of high school and I become vegan. I still bake because my baking still fulfils that purpose yet it becomes increasingly difficult to do so because I can’t taste anything I bake. It’s not as if I want to eat that cupcake or slice of cake but I want to make sure that what I’m serving tastes good. It’s not as if the recipe changes everytime I bake but every day is different and there are many ingredient and non-ingredient factors that affect the outcome of a baked good and the resulting taste. As a vegan baking non-vegan items, it was hard to know for certain that the quality of taste was still up to standard after every bake so I just had to pray and hope that it was. That was, to say the least, incredibly frustrating.
Come 2017, and I’m done with high school. I’m entering into a new chapter of my life with a lot of change in store. Everyone who has just graduated from high school is going through that change. I’ve settled in Cape Town and adapted to my new life. I no longer have the troubles of high school. In fact, I have no troubles at all. Or perhaps it’s not that I have no troubles it’s that I’m too busy to care about them. The minute I step off the plane onto Namibian soil, I am bombarded with requests to bake. My immediate reaction… “Ughhhhhh.” Adapting to a new environment requires an immense amount of energy so when I come back home I come to rest and recharge. I don’t have the energy to bake a time and effort consuming cake or batch of cupcakes. Because here’s the thing, I put my heart into everything I bake. I put in work. I care a whole lot about the taste and appearance of my baked good and I am not happy until I feel it’s perfect and even when it is, I’m still not satisfied and will find flaws and things I can improve on. I don’t have the energy to go through all of that when I come home. All I want to do at home is not have to worry about anything because everything is taken care of by my mother.
Now that I’m in town for a few months it’s understandable to expect me to be free but I’m not here for holidays. I am a working woman. *flips hair* I’m working at the Stellenbosch Tasting Room/Wine Bar and Bistro as a junior chef and have ordinary hours like everybody else in the kitchen. That means I work night shifts, morning shifts, weekends and double shifts. It’s a full-time thing and I have practically zero time for anything else. I gotta hustle to make time to blog and have to hustle even more to do anything else so baking is completely off the table.
The thing is though, even if I wasn’t working, I still wouldn’t bake. I feel as if the role my baking played in high school no longer needs to be fulfilled and I know, “Damn, Zoa, it’s not that deep the cakes are just tasty and people just wanna eat tasty food. There’s nothing else to them and all that crap about its role in high school is just crap you made up.” That very well may be and hey, man, that’s cool. If my baking didn’t affect you the way it did me in high school, that’s fine. However, on a personal level that’s how I feel, and now that we’re out of school there is no other role my cupcakes need to play. Therefore, they have no purpose, hence their discontinuation.
Saying I don’t bake anymore does not mean I don’t bake anything anymore. I still bake, as long as it’s vegan because then I know if something actually tastes good or not. Saying I don’t bake anymore does, however, mean that I don’t bake upon request. If you’re going to ask me to bake you something vegan I might consider doing it if time allows, otherwise, no baking.
I apologise if this decision comes as a disappointment to anybody but nothing lasts forever. It truly was fun, it really was great and I would like to thank all of you who ever ate a cupcake or paid me to bake for anything because I did enjoy the challenges and it helped improve my skills immensely. However, that’s just how the cookie crumbles (I saw the opportunity to use that pun and I took it. Don’t judge me.) I have to put my mental health first by actually relaxing and taking breaks when I don’t have school or work because baking can so easily turn into another stressful job I have to do.