Baking vs. Cooking


The past few years have been increasingly stressful in my life for a multitude of reasons: quarantine, high school, crappy friends, parents, the list goes on. In times of stress, coping mechanisms are extremely important, and in the hunt to find a healthy one, I started baking.

At first, I only made recipes from store-bought mixes, nothing was ever from scratch. I thought baking was going to be too much like cooking (I can barely make scrambled eggs) but in reality, it was so much better. I made brownies with Ghirardelli brownie mix almost weekly, then I started making chocolate chip cookies using the recipe on Nestle chocolate chips. As I kept making more and more basic recipes, I built my confidence up and I branched out. That was something that never happened with cooking. When I made actual meals, something would always end up burned, raw, or somehow both. When I baked though, everything worked out. The recipes had so much structure to follow which took all of my concentration, and now even if I have a recipe memorized, even if it’s second nature to me when I start baking it feels like my problems aren’t really there anymore.

This relief gave me the chance to try new things. I made soufflés, I made a raspberry cheesecake from scratch, I made my first cake from scratch when I was completely home alone (I may have cried on the floor, but tears and chocolate go well together.) Baking became one of my go-to pastimes, and if someone were to give me a recipe, I’m confident I could make it and it wouldn’t be horrible.

Cooking is much more guesswork than baking, and that guessing makes it more stressful than it would be otherwise. There is more room for error in baking, but with cooking certain things are more important than expected, and therefore can ruin the entire recipe if it’s done wrong.

When it comes to baking, the possibilities are endless, and I know that sounds trite but it’s true. With cooking there are only so many things you can do with a recipe, but with baking you can add things, change amounts, and find a multitude of different desserts from the same base recipe. The variety and experimentation that comes with making something gives a new layer that can’t be reached otherwise.

Without baking, I don’t know where I would be, but there are moments when I do think it saved me. Coping mechanisms are extremely important and every day they become more necessary in life. Finding healthy ones is essential, and having multiple options is helpful. For me, baking is easily in my top three and if you are struggling with finding a healthy way to cope baking is definitely a solid option. Cooking in my mind is not, but for some people, I suppose it may just work. Next time you’re feeling bad, maybe try some baking because it could change your life. Or just read a book, that’s always my first choice.