Real men should bake
Be proud of it
As a food lover, you'll agree with me that these are halcyon days indeed to be a worshipper of all things gastronomy, and that's because the two things you love best—cooking and eating—have been elevated into an art form and celebrated universally as being sexier than, well, sex. And where baking (and pastry art, but let's keep things simple) might have been left out of this enchanted kingdom a scant handful of years ago, it has happily been quietly gaining momentum, led by such intrepid bakers as the lads behind Just Heavenly, Fat Boy Bakes's Cheng Yi, and a handful of cottage industry brands like Elevete Patisserie, helmed by Edwin Chan.
Still, it's a rarity to stumble across ordinary men who will readily admit to baking as a passion. Don't get me wrong, there may well be plenty of the stronger sex who find solace in making trays of muffins after a long hard day on the tools, but whether or not he will concede to doing it is quite another story. This reticence could be attributed to the very strong feminine image that's linked to baking. Because, let's face it, when the first tantalising whiff of freshly baked cake assails our nostrils whatever the context, it's mum's smiling, slightly glowing, face that's immediately conjured, not dad's, no matter how much we might adore the old chap.
Then there is also the ineluctable fact that in order to be a successful baker, one must read and follow instructions, for baking is a precision game. If men refuse to read the instructions to assemble an Ikea cabinet, what hope is there that they can conquer the fine print requisite to mastering a soufflé? Just as cooking is all about experimenting, baking is about acquiescing, and there are not many men I know who enjoy the act of surrendering.
I imagine the precision of baking also turns many men off. Forget the slapdash "a handful of this, and a fistful of that" technique employed by the Naked Chef (which, incidentally, has enabled many bachelors to survive despite having few skills in the kitchen), baking is about eschewing short cuts and going in for the long haul. It's about taking the scenic route whether you like it or not, with mandatory toilet stops at every rest area. If you don't believe me, try making macarons. From the temperature to the flick of the wrist when folding in the mixture, the accuracy that is required is torturous and often deters and defeats even the most determined novice baker. The fact is, just as cooking is like playing the piano, baking is akin to playing the violin. You can play the piano without the benefit of formal lessons even if the resulting cacophony is less than pleasing, but you simply cannot play the violin unless you have at least a rudimentary knowledge of music. Similarly, any punter can slap together an omelette, but it's quite another matter to make a meringue, unless you have prior knowledge and a cookbook to guide you.
And yet, baking is a satisfying and therapeutic pastime (once you know how to do it) that should appeal to many men with a penchant for cooking. Just as making a nice meal yields pleasure in the people for whom you cook, baking is equally about gratifying family and friends with the comfort of homemade cookies or just-baked muffins. Far from being labeled 'soft' because of one's predilection for baking, men who bake are extremely sexy, because the act of baking and giving love and nourishment to the ones you love is the ultimate act of caring. Generations of mothers have done it successfully, and now, my dear male readers, so can—and should—you.