I have just walked upstairs to my office desk from the test bakery for the huge multinational baking company I consult for 10 days every month in Bagshot, Surrey, UK. You can tell it’s my desk because My chair is a dusty, floury light blue color because I always pat my backside with my hands after playing in flour. Just a habit of mine, I’m afraid.
I have two sourdoughs fermenting, a plain Pain au Levain and a Rye & Raisin Sourdough. There are also some delicious toffee biscuits that I baked for morning tea and some spinach puff pastry ready to go. In between all of that I am messaging, emailing, looking at pictures on my iPhone of my bakeries in Singapore, Shanghai, and arranging a trip to Hangzhou & Japan in May to meet with my partners there to see how things are progressing with my bakeries. Not to mention that I’m also writing my 13th book for it’s 2014 release and coordinating my next Kiwi Baker in California TV series… who said men can’t multi-task!?
Which brings me to my question: why do so many men bake commercially and so few bake at home?
I learned to bake from my mother and my Nana in the early days. In fact, it wasn’t really about baking: I was more interested in the science behind the baking, which is what got me interested in it. I could have easily become a chef instead of a baker as I was also incredibly interested in food.
Almost all of my school friends were destined to become farmers, carpenters, or brick layers and I was the odd one out who chose baking and food. I learned very early on about exceeding expectations, presentation, taste, and flavors. I also learned about the attention that I could attract by making a few good breads, cakes, and pastries.
Yes, I have to say that baking put me squarely alongside all the young ladies at parties… a cunning plan, since woman love men who can bake.
I often say that baking is a thinking game; you have to think about all aspects from the ingredients, process, timing, and structure to the cooling time, decorating and final presentation, so it’s fair to say that one could liken it to the building or construction business. Rather than playing with concrete, wood, and tiles, however, you use flour, eggs, butter, fruits, sugar, and so one as your building materials and the coat of paint. Icing and decorating then become your landscaping.
Why Men Should Bake
So there is absolutely no reason in the world why men can’t grasp and master the basics of baking. Where men often go wrong is they are too heavy handed. In reality, men could have a better grasp of bringing all the components together technically, but they often lack the natural flair of floating magically around the kitchen. But who really does that anyway?
There is another reason why men should be great bakers: many men grow up as “mommy’s boys”… we are almost brought up with an apron on by default.
I say to all the people that work for me across the globe that it takes just as long to make crap product as it does to make amazing product. Rustic, slightly macho styles of baking is so very trendy right now. Big, bold flavors, interesting textures, and something that looks so damn delicious and yummy to eat… now if that’s not right up men’s baking ally, I don’t know what is! Come on, men, we are all tired of pretty cupcakes decorated by women in frilly pink aprons.
There are numerous benefits to men baking. Let’s be blunt, the more men do around the kitchen, like cooking, baking for the family, and doing the shopping, the more time the family gets time together. On top of all of this baking is a great way to get the kids involved.
My son, who is now 17 years old, loves to bake, but he wants to be a lawyer, not a baker. Susan, his mother, loves to bake, too… but guess where she learned all her baking tips and tricks from – yes, me, a man!
Baking is about sharing. I love to bake for other people, not for money but for actually caring and giving. Absolutely no one can turn down a lovely baked loaf of bread, batch of cookies or even your mother’s favorite cake. Yes, that’s right, your mother’s favorite cake, made by her son. Wouldn’t she be proud?
I bet if you ran a professional bake off where only professional bakers could enter, it would be almost all men. So my last words on the subject is … COME ON, MEN, LET’S BAKE!