A word on anxiety and perfection, if I may. I’m no stranger to anxiety, sometimes it is more pressing and obvious but generally it has been a beast that I’ve tamed with talking, medication and time. I’m due to have the ankle of doom repaired in 3 days time and for the most part, I’m not particularly anxious about the surgery, more the after events and the anaesthetic, which given my past history with anaesthesia, isn’t surprising. Other people may not get anxious about surgery but may fall apart when you mention flying or bats or mice; we all have our trigger points. The perfection element feeds nicely into my anxiety moments and stokes the fires that I have worked bloody hard to stamp out.
Most notably, I tend to want to do things perfectly the first time around even though it’s unlikely to happen. First day at work, wasn’t perfect. First dates, never perfect. First time trying a new skill/hobby, wobbly and novice…because so am I. This perfection goal follows me to the kitchen too. When I try a new recipe or new skill, I desperately want it to be perfect and for people to like my efforts. While I’ve got better at accepting failures without thinking I’m the worst human ever to have lived, it doesn’t stop old habits sneaking in and dipping their sticky paws into my creations. Today was absolutely one of those times.
Husband has said on many occasions that he loves cheese scones (biscuits in the US) and I have admitted that despite my adoration for scones with clotted cream and jam, I have never in my 33 years on this earth, eaten a cheese scone. I’m not sure how or why I’ve managed to avoid them, but it was going to change. I’d bookmarked a recipe by the Guardian food writer Felicity Cloake for The Perfect Cheese Scone and had been saying that I wanted to try it out. Why not today? I’m thankful that Felicity has done the donkey work of trying multiple recipes before supplying one that makes the elusive perfect specimen, all I had to do was follow the recipe and wait for them to cook. The recipe itself is idiot proof; I know this because I made them and it didn’t go wrong. Sure I didn’t use fluted cutters, my butter wasn’t grated into the flour and no, I didn’t use mustard powder but the finished results were pretty. And as Husband commented, “tasty”. The anxiety showed when I sat for the full 12 minutes in front of the oven watching the trays of scones puff up and turn a golden colour. The kitchen was a bomb site for an hour or so, but the finished results were absolutely worth it.
To add fuel to the anxiety fire, I also decided to bake FODMAP friendly, gluten and dairy free brownies for the office. The reason they weren’t my normal brownies is so that my lovely work mate B can indulge in the baked goods that have been very firmly off her menu for a while. I’ve only ever baked with GF flour once and the results were not great so this time round I was a little hesitant. Despite my misgivings, the results look promising; well risen and smelling irresistibly chocolatey. I used a recipe I found online at alittlebityummy.com where there is a raft of recipes that cater for most dietary requirements. This time I followed the recipe to the letter, except for the size of the pan. I only had a 20cm x 20cm pan which meant a longer bake and a smaller batch – the excess batter went into making 7 small brownie buns which don’t look like they have suffered for their size.
So have my anxiety gremlins been silenced for good? No. No baking is going to do that, but my confidence boost has given them something to think about. While things may not always go according to plan, making mistakes isn’t the worst thing that I can do. Leaving the washing up lying around, now that is the real crime.