For the love of baking

Some people meditate and other people run in order to clear their mind and relax. When I start baking for other people, to share this lovely science experiment of salts and sugars, my body relaxes. My mind clears. The day is gone and all is simplified to a cup or a teaspoon, stir or chop, mix, then pour, and bake until the knife comes out clean.  I have been asked many times where I learned how to bake, or where I was trained.  Why do I do what I do?

Roll it and pat it and mark it with a ‘B’
and put it in the oven for baby and me!

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My hands desire purposeful and playful work. I love food and all things about good food.  And when all these things come together and a delicious end product can be shared, I feel like I have shared a little peace with a piece of cake.  I love baking.  I always wanted to be the kind of person who had warm cookies when guests came over and when I finally graduated from box mix brownies, I found that I enjoyed creating things from scratch even more!

Salt. Butter. Sugar. Flour. These four ingredients come together in so many different ways…it’s just simply amazing!  A little more of this and a little less of that and you have a tough biscuit great for dunking in a hearty stew. Mix them a different way and add yeast and seasonings and you have a delicious flatbread or pizza!  Add chocolate, oh my goodness, and see what happens next. The plates are soon empty! (OK, so maybe it’s not that easy, but you see where I am going with this…) When I start reaching for those boxes and bags of ingredients, some sort of culinary magic is going to follow. And I do truly believe it to be magic!

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It is this exact excitement and wonder that guided me to begin baking a lot of things from scratch for more than just my family. That love and fun slowly spread to bringing the sweetest and most decadent treats I could make to family parties and potlucks, always hoping to outdo myself from party to party. Then one day I really wanted a certain chocolate chip cookie that I used to buy at the small cafe in town.  It had closed and there had never been a chocolate chip cookie that compared to it since. So experiments began, googling commenced, and taste testing was weekly with new recipes and subtle changes, until I came pretty darn close. Now I have my version of the whole wheat chocolate chip cookie. And I wondered, how a baguette can be so crispy on the outside and creamy and light on the inside? Some days trial and error was enough, but soon, educating myself wasn’t enough.  Adventures in baking took me to other bakers and even to King Arthur Baking classes in Norwich, Vermont to learn from the professionals.  My husband and I are so interested in baking, we took baking classes for our honeymoon!

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The big leap came when I wandered the farmer’s market and wanted to get a nice “fancy” cup of coffee and there was no sweet snack to pair it with. Maybe I’ll find a nice muffin or cookie, I told myself.  But alas, nothing there was suitable for my picky palate.  I could probably make something just like that, but a little different, I would joke to my husband. And soon enough, Ashera Fine Baking emerged and I have been able to share my passion with many great people at the local farmer’s markets.

I was creating an entirely new line of treats the other day after I baked a few classic favorites for our house. And I glad that there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight to my cooking and baking education in my kitchen.  Come see what I am talking about this weekend at the Tamworth Farmer’s Market from 9am to 1pm st the Universalist Unitarian parking lot and beginning June at the new Wednesday night North Conway Farmer’s Market from 4pm to 7pm in Schouler Park! Come taste the end products for yourself!

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