I taught someone how to bake something today and, well wouldn't you know, it was really fun. I have never really considered the rewards of teaching someone to do something. Other than teaching college kids who want to be writers about writing, that is, which is still something I think would be rewarding...
But we're talking about cupcakes now. And that is one thing I have a LOT of experience baking. I showed up at Meredith's house and she had some recipe for chocolate sour cream cake from epicurious. I read the recipe and we got to work. She measured and sifted the dries. I got the butter soft in the microwave, measured out sugar, did the eggs and added an extra yolk, and substituted milk for water cause the sour cream was lowfat and it all made sense but, I'll admit, I was kinda keeping my fingers crossed like maybe it would be too fatty, or too many different things changed and it would somehow be bad and all my fault, but then I figured that it would probably be fine. When everything was measured I told Meredith that she was going to make the cupcakes and I'd watch and be moral support. So I narrated: cream the butter and sugar, scrape it down, keep creaming. Add the eggs (which I'd pre-mixed together) little by little, scrape, add 1/3 of the dried, 1/2 of the wets, etc.
As she sifted the dries I told her the latest thing I'd just learned about sifting, and as I heated up the butter and then the milk I told her about the importance of keeping ingredients at room temperature, and the the batter would probably look curdled because the eggs were still cold, but that it would come back together when we added the dries. I coached her through each step. We put the first tray in to bake and I monitored the baking time very, very carefully. Because I really didn't know how long it would take to bake cupcakes versus a 9 inch cake. And because of everything lately at work. I told myself I couldn't think about anything other than how the cupcakes looked. Were they still mushy in the middle? Did they spring back underneath my touch? Or just almost, begging for one minute more but no more?
Like, damned if I was acting as someone's professional baking coach and I fucked up their cupcakes. So now I stretch this moment somehow, find a way to hold onto it.
Later, when we were walking home from the bar where we'd gone after she cooked me some yummy dinner...like, home-cooked meal man! and she wouldn't let me help or help clean up!...she was thanking me for my help and I was brushing it off saying they'd have been fine. No, she said. You're the one who told me to add the eggs a little at a time, otherwise I would've just dumped them all in. And it was a small thing, but I felt sheepish and happy and I wanted to call up everyone who'd ever taught me anything and tell them that I spent my evening helping someone be a better baker and it was fun dammit! And it made me reflect a lot on, yknow, what's been going on of late.