Today, while in the supermarket picking up various baking goodies, I saw something that made me stop and think and has been playing on my mind since. Let me set the scene for you.
I needed supplies for a few specific posts I am in the middle of writing and while standing in the home baking aisle trying to choose between plain and milk chocolate chips (I went with plain, in case you were wondering), I noticed next to me a young girl about 10 or 11.
I specifically noticed her because she reminded me of me at her age. Same hair colour (no, not red), same height and face shape and I remember being her age and going shopping. Although, I never ventured into the baking aisle. I didn’t start baking until I was 21 and before that had only made a few uneven and biscuit-like fairy cakes with my nan.
The young girl was looking at me and watching me choose items off the shelf. She picked up the same chocolate chips as me. She had yellow icing in her hand and as I picked up the orange colour, she too, grabbed that one. She looked like she was thinking of what she could do with all of the colours.
An older woman, who I am assuming to be her grandmother came over to ask what she was doing. “I’d really like to make mum a cake” she said. I thought it was really cute. I don’t know if it was her mum’s birthday or for Mother’s Day, but I thought the gesture was adorable. My mum never tried my baking. Having died when I was 16, I could only just about successfully make toast at that age. I always made my mum a cup of coffee in the mornings though. Gold Blend, 2 sugars, white.
“No” said the grandmother, proceeding to take the baking items from the young girl and put them back randomly on the shelf, “we’ll buy her one, it’s easier.” Then took her by the hand and led her to the prepackaged cake section at the end of the aisle.
I don’t know why, but this made me a little upset. The young girl looked so disappointed, she really wanted to make her mum a cake. Ok, sure, I’m not saying the grandmother was wrong, buying a cake would have indeed been easier, but baking a cake for someone is showing you love them on a completely different level than just buying one. It comes from the heart, not from a box.
Every year for my birthday my friends tell me they are faced with the dilemma of buying me a cake or making me one. I tell them every time I would appreciate them making one. “It wouldn’t look like yours” my friend Laura said to me once, and of course she’s probably right, considering she doesn’t bake every day. But it wouldn’t matter to me what it looked like! When it comes to baking for loved ones, it really is the thought that counts.
I’ve shown in my Budget vs Premium article that you can make a pretty good Victoria sponge for around £2.63 whereas celebration cakes in supermarkets tend to start at the £8 mark so home baking is more cost effective too.
I guess, seeing this unfold in the supermarket got me thinking. This little girl may very well forget about this whole thing by the end of the day but it’s stuck in my mind. Maybe it’s because I can’t ever bake a cake for my mum, maybe I’m getting softer as I get older, but honestly, I really wanted to help this young girl bake a cake.
My first cakes, including the frankly beautiful giant cupcake pictured at the top of this post, were a mess. No other word for them. But they made me so happy, and at a time when smiles were few and far between, I was so grateful for it (You can read that story here). It’s only now, six years later that I look back and see how far I’ve come. How much I’ve learnt. How much baking changed my life.
Baking isn’t always easy, but it is fun and it is worth it. It’s made with love, and to me, that’s better than anything that you can buy in a box.