Slice of Life: All in a Good Bake

Here I sit on the couch. It’s the end of a long, productive and busy day – a good one! – and rather than channel my energy into housework or data entry or emails, I’m watching episodes of the Junior Bake-Off Show (see that, Pillsbury? we’re good, we’re good!).

This show is one of my absolute favorites. And it’s not just because I’m a baker at heart. It’s not just because the folks on the show are so delightful, charming, and kind to one another. I’m realizing (from my campsite on the couch) that this show – the kid version in particular – satisfies me on a deep, emotional level.

As I watch, I’m realizing that this show, and the kids on it, have lessons for me and my students to learn:

  1. Sometimes the bake goes sideways. Yep. Sometimes it’s the humidity in the tent. Sometimes the bread just doesn’t prove correctly. Sometimes there’s a missing egg, or salt, or an unset jelly. What are you going to do? Dry your tears and keep going. It won’t be so bad.
  2. Sometimes the bake goes well. Really, really well. And people will compliment you on the precision of your icing, or the rise of your sponge, or the level of flavors you’ve given them. Say thank you and know that you’ve done something well because this is something you’re good at.
  3. Sometimes time is not your friend. There are times you will be frustrated because your pie just doesn’t have enough time in the oven, or you’re behind because you had to restart your caramel, or perhaps your cake doesn’t have the chance to cool before frosting it. Or maybe time got away from you and the pancakes burnt, or your egg whites got lumpy. Reconfigure, rework, and improvise something. Maybe breathe a couple of times. You’re going to be okay.
  4. Putting something into the world is both an act of courage and a release of control. And maybe the people who taste it will love your flavor profile, or maybe they’ll think there was too much lavender in the mix, or maybe they’ll wish the pastry had been a bit flakier. You’ll still be standing at the end of the tasting session. Promise.
  5. There’s a reason why the hosts are comedians. Because when things are at their most tense, their most terrible, the most dark and dim, it’s sometimes helpful to have someone else remind you that a botched batch of biscuits is not a ten on the awful-meter.
  6. Compadres are a special thing. When all of the folks around you are as excited about your passion as you are, there’s a certain feeling in the air. Knowing you’re in the company of people who GET YOU is a magical, magical thing. And being able to craft and create together side by side is a thing of awe. Enjoy it. RUN with it.

There’s more learning to be had, but quite frankly, it’s time for me to get back to the show. The kids are about to make choux pastry self-portraits. Will all of this young talent astound me?


One of my creations – hamentaschen, to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim. Maybe some day this would be a technical challenge – BOY would that be a toughie!

Published by Lainie Levin

Mom of two, full-time teacher, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and holder of a very full plate

31 thoughts on “Slice of Life: All in a Good Bake

  1. I really like how you incorporated lessons learned in a cooking show to life lessons. Even a baking flop is a lesson in what to do differently next time. I learn more from failure than I do from success.

    1. Thanks! Absolutely! I remember I was in a classroom where the concept of an “iterative process” came up. It’s pretty eye-opening once you realize that mistakes carve the path forward…

  2. “Sometimes” … what a great word. Life is not about perfection. Neither is baking. What a great way to be entertained, learn something, and reflect on the world! ❤

    1. That whole “perfection” thing has taken me a lonnnnggg time to internalize. One scholar I’ve learned a lot from, Michelle Kane, has talked about the difference between “perfectionism” versus “pursuit of excellence.” I’ve carried that wisdom with me for a while.

  3. So reassuring! What heartwarming lessons–pun intended. Those hamentaschen look amazing!! I definitely would like the recipe sometime. I’m finding more and more what courage it takes to put something out in the world. Thank you!

  4. How reassuring! Those hamentaschen look incredible! I’d love the recipe sometime. I’m becoming more and more away of how much courage it takes to put things out there in the world! Thank you!

  5. “Putting something into the world is both an act of courage and a release of control” this life lesson applies to every creative outlet in existence.

    I adore how you’ve made them all work. These should be in a book mark, or some other kind of hand out as the new school year begins.

    Your hamantaschen look absolutely yummy – I could all but smell them!

    1. Getting these ideas together in a book mark. Now that’s an idea, Raivenne! I may just break out the cardstock and have at it!

      It also makes me think that perhaps my students have wisdom they’d want on a book mark. I wonder if I can get them to craft some…?

  6. I love these lessons! What a way to start the school year … I mean, now I do want to bake…. well I’m actually a terrible baker, so I’d like my kids to bake me something! 🙂

  7. Your hamantaschen look incredible and is that challot in the top picture?? My mouth is watering and my mind is tingling with the metaphors that abound in this slice.

  8. This is food energy that I come here for! 🙂 What a great slice of life, combining life and food, words and nourishment. Thank you for sharing your insights about both food and life with us. 🙂

  9. THIS: “And being able to craft and create together side by side is a thing of awe.” YES. It’s all at the core of being human, the desire to create, make, nurture, share… awe (my one word forever, I think) is surely woven through the baking-together experience. Your hamentaschen looks to be as delectable as your ideas, Lainie…and I sense the inherent rejoicing of life, salvation, and provision in this holiday celebration.

    1. Thank you, Fran! You know, I could probably post for a year on baking – literally, metaphorically. There’s SO much there woven within…

  10. This reminded us of times when we were baking sweets and they didn’t look or taste good. We like the way you talked about not everything turns out good and you have to stay on the bright side. Keep up the great work! Mia and Sloane

    1. Thanks, Mia and Sloane! Your comment also reminded me of when I was in fifth grade. My best friend and I would experiment around with baking cookies in her kitchen. We made some pretty awful stuff! I’m also glad you heard my message about forgiving yourself even when things don’t go well.

  11. We like how you added lots of detail and made lists of what could happen if your baking. What was your inspiration for All in a Good Bake? You really got our attention when you included the part where sometimes people mess up and we really like the ending. Keep up the great work! Tony, Ethan, and Justin.

    1. Tony, Ethan and Justin…you ask what inspired this post? Well one day, I was watching an episode of one of my favorite shows, The British Bake Show. And it also just so happened that this day was a Tuesday, the same day I often post a “Slice of Life” post about what’s happening in my world. And it ALSO just so happened that I needed to think of a post. Voila! This writing was born.

  12. This reminds me of the time when I watched a baking show with my family. This makes me think that while reading this text, I understand that winning is not everything. From Mark & Max. Keep up the great work!!!

    1. Mark and Max, I’m glad you were able to get my message about winning not being everything. Sometimes things go well, sometimes they don’t. Either way, I like to shrug my shoulders and keep on going. And…what baking show were you watching? Any recommendations?

  13. I can’t wait to see where this goes I think this sounds like a good show hope to know more about it and once agen I can’t wait to see where this goes. Grace

  14. I like that you tell like if you are in a cooking show. But what is the show you watching? I connect with you because I like watching cooking shows. Ayza

    1. Ayza, thanks for asking! I was watching the Junior British Bake Show. Some of the kids were as young as 9 or 10, and they were competing on TV. What cooking shows do YOU like to watch?

  15. As we read, we kept thinking about how we bake/cook an how some things go right and some go wrong This reminds me of a time where me and my brother tried to make a strawberry pie and it was a disaster but we kept going This reminds me of a time when we were baking cookies and it turned out to be huge cookies even though it was big it tasted really good Andrea,Ainsley,and Gwen

    1. Andrea, Ainsley and Gwen, I’m so grateful to know that you connected with my work. And…oh, my goodness! That strawberry pie sounds like an adventure. Now…my question is, did it just LOOK like a disaster, or did it also TASTE like a disaster? I’ve had times where things looked terrible, but tasted ok. Those are the things I don’t give away, but will happily eat!

  16. The paragraph sometimes the bake goes sideways it made me fell that you can not get mad over one thing. Liliana

    1. Liliana, I’m so glad and grateful you took that message from my writing. That, I think, is one of the biggest things I was trying to say. Sometimes my problems seem really big in the moment, but it helps to remember that maybe things are not always so awful. It lets me feel my feelings and respond to them without losing my cool…

  17. Well done! We like the way how you started writing about the junior baking show. We noticed that you wrote about how to improvise when you think it’s not good or you messed up. From, Zoey and Adelle

    1. Zoey and Adelle, yes! Improvising can be really important when I mess up. Sometimes, I can make something good out of a mistake. (Did you know Toll House Cookies were an accidental invention?)

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