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Stress Baking?

  • Candy Sep 10, 2007 09:45 AM
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The topic of are you a cook or a baker got me to thinking about this. Frequently when I am stressed about something I just have to bake. It seems to be a pattern I really hadn't noticed until recently because I cook and bake a lot anyway. My oldest dog died last week (the one on the right in the avatar) I was called to come pick up her ashes yesterday and immediately the Baking From My Home To Yours came out and I have 2 logs of World Peace cookies in the fridge ready to bake. I could not stop myself. I'll end up giving them away after having one or two. Any others out there who react in a similar way?

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  1. Yes! My husband always knows when I'm stressed out because every counter in the kitchen is covered in cooling bread. Quick breads, yeast breads, coffee cakes, etc.

    He'd rather I make pies, but for some reason, breads do it for me. :)

    2 Replies
    1. re: tzurriz

      this thread reminds me of the book "eat cake" about a woman whose life is falling apart so she bakes cakes.

      1. re: tinymango

        Thank you for reminding me of that book! A friend lent it to me some time ago.

    2. Yes! I never realized it until a long-time friend mentioned it the other day when I told him I be bringing a loaf of fresh bread over later. He says he noticed it years ago and everyone knows to stay out of my way when I've got the kitchen torn up!

      1. Oh, definitely... and when others around me are stressed, I feel the need to bake them stuff too. My aunt recently got divorced and my gut instinct was to make her cookies, but I felt like that was silly, like cookies were going to help her feel better?! My husband convinced me to do it anyway, and she told my grandma that they definitely made her day so I didn't feel so silly after all.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Katie Nell

          I am the same way! I never know what to say to someone in need so I typically just try to find out what they like and start baking!

        2. {{{{{hugs to Candy}}}}} on the loss of your dog. I completely understand the stress baking, although I do a lot less baking now - cooking something that involves a lot of repetitive tasks will do it for me. (Lots of chopping, stirring, etc.)

          1. You bet. I think it helps me because it feels like doing something useful and productive in the face of whatever the stress-causing event is, normally something out of my control.

            1. Candy, I'm so sorry for your loss... dogs are such loving family members and wonderful best friends. I am also a stress baker and a stress cleaner. In the last several years, every time an emotionally stressful event has occurred I have found myself in the midst of a baking or scrubbing frenzy. I can't stop until every surface is clean and organized and then covered with various baked goods. The comfort is in the mindless repetition; it helps you burn off all the nervous energy and allows you to "check out" for awhile. And no matter how much you bake, it's never hard to find takers for the extras!

              1. I don't bake much (not a lot of point in it when there are only two of you, and you KNOW that anything you make will be devoured far too quickly by far too few people!) But sometimes when I'm feeling anxious and stressed out, I'll suddenly decide to devote the entire afternoon to cooking dinner - it's soothing because you can't think about anything else other than the task at hand, but it doesn't require much brainpower, and it makes stuff that smells and tastes good, and it's generally comforting...

                1. I'm so sorry for your loss. I just put my dog down last week as well, so I'm right there with you. I nearly went to pieces picking up the ashes and reading the inscription by our vet in a book they gave me.

                  I tend to bake things that smell good, or things that I can give to others and feel the joy of giving. Gingerbread, cinnamon crumb cake w/ extra crumbs, cheesecake (for my lactose intolerant friend), etc.

                  1. Condolences on the loss of your dog.
                    I understand stress baking. Which is why I'm looking forward to baking challah for the holidays.
                    What kind of cookies are World Peace cookies?

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: pescatarian

                      This thread really resonates for me. I also want to send an internet hug out to you candy. I have lost dogs to old age and my present dog is very close to going to that doggie heaven soon.
                      As does Emme, I like to fill my home with comforting aromas. I realized a while ago that this is the way I nurture myself. I I am also planning on baking challah this week and I will bring some to my mother in her nursing home. What can be more life affirming than watching that magical powder, yeast, grow and swell and turn a bowl of ingredients into the "staff of life"?

                      1. re: pescatarian

                        They are sort of a chocolate sable. Greenspan says the recipe originated with Pierre Herme. They are a slice and bake and have chunks of 70% chocolate baked into them.

                        1. re: Candy

                          Recipe here: http://www.leitesculinaria.com/recipe... They've been renamed since then.

                          1. re: Katie Nell

                            That is it. Since today did not go as planned I may get them baked tomorrow AM. The dough will hold 3 days in the fridge.

                      2. Hahaha, it's so funny that you post this today, because I had a compulsion to bake all day yesterday (and was indecisive about what to make, finally making coffee cake) and didn't know why, and then realized that it was because of a health scare of a family member. And yes, I definitely stress bake all the time -- when my sister was coming back from a semester in a somewhat dangerous country last fall, I was so anxious while waiting for her late night plane to arrive that I said "I just have to make a cake!" and ended up making gingerbread at 10 at night. I actually have a feeling I'll be baking a lot this week.

                        And my sympathy on the loss of your dog, my dog is pretty old, and I know that time is coming soon.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: JasmineG

                          She was 12 and had liver problems, took up drinking in her old age I guess. My other 2 are 2 and 4 so they have a long way to go. I guess baking is better than shopping for a new standard poodle and less expensive.

                          It was funny that I had never noticed that compulsion before. I can relate to LaCupcake's cleaning frenzy too. I do that too. Thank God for Xanax!

                          1. re: Candy

                            I'm so glad you started this thread, I'm glad that there are others out there like me! My family makes fun of me when I stress bake (sometimes I stress cook too!), so I'm glad that I'm not the only one.

                            1. re: Candy

                              I always thought you leaned toward fried chicken in times of stress. Your Southern heritage, I think.

                              1. re: jillp

                                Oh I can make fried chicken anytime. But looking back at some other stressful situations it was baking, bread, cookies etc.

                          2. what an interesting thread, esp on Sept 10
                            on Sept 11, 2001 I made a very large pot of tomato sauce

                            I go for a lot of relaxing chopping . . . a cooking meditation.

                            condolences on the pups, Candy and Emme

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: pitu

                              Wow. Hadn't even thought about that, but I was working on 9/11/01. I do remember I didn't eat dinner that night. Couldn't.

                            2. Ha! I know I do this. It is especially prevalent near finals when I'll bake all day instead of studying. My boss noticed the influx of cookies and cupcakes at the end of last spring. I like stress baking.... but I don't like the inevitable (but delicious) stress eating!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Lixer

                                That is why I get rid of the stuff. Some goes to my DH's office some I take to my MD's office. But I just have to bake.

                              2. I'm sorry to hear about your pet, they become such dear old friends if we're lucky to have them with us for awhile.

                                But to answer your question. As for me, and not ever really being a baker, but I do love to cook, a strange thing happened, I took up baking in the fall of 2005. After leaving a job that I should of left long before since I was no longer interested in high stress and situations strange enough, for me anyway, to want to move on. So when I left that job, I took up baking and studying the science behind it. I don't mean I went to a school to learn, but I did throw myself into it and tried to learn as much as I could to perfect baked goods, any and all.

                                I came out pretty well versed, I feel pretty good at breads, cakes, cookies and the like. Once I had devoted so much time to try to understand baking, all of a sudden it all made sense as to why one would measure precisely, and why it was important to follow instructions to the letter.

                                Where before I had no interest in baking, all of a sudden I couldn't get enough information on the subject and I was truly amazed at my success. It is therapeutic, and I highly recommend baking to anyone that wants redirect their focus for whatever reason.

                                1. Sorry to hear about your dog.

                                  I cook and sharpen the knives. The knives have gotten duller over the past four years since our daughter was born.

                                  1. thats the way i was when i was living away from home. every time i was stressed out either with an exam or some major problem, i was always baking or making a cheeseball. so it seemed as if i was doing this on a weekly basis. but i know that my roomies, their boyfriends and bosses all appreciated the goodies.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: vttp926

                                      I guess it is a coping mechanism. On Thurs. I knew a friend was catering a dinner for Sat. PM and begged her to give me something to bake/make. It is something you can control when everything else is falling apart.

                                      Cooks therapy and we are not alone! Good to know that none of us are nuts!

                                    2. Baking is very therapeutic for me, and I turn to it almost instinctively. After 9/11, I baked all day for days.
                                      www.littlecomptonmornings.blogspot.com

                                      1. Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your beloved dog. I understand completely. I bake when stressed, and have as my drop spot the local assisted living facility. It gives me comfort to treat the 12 ladies there (and many of them need to gain weight apparently. What lucky happenstance!) My grandmother was in such a facility at the end of her days, and I don't think it's a coincidence I like to bake, have a piece, and take the rest to my "grandma figures."

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: amyzan

                                          That's so sweet, amyzan! I tend to take stuff to family or to work, but I think that this is a great idea for next time I have a baking need!

                                          1. re: JasmineG

                                            For folks with extra baked goods, the local Meals on Wheels is always looking for desserts.

                                        2. I am sorry to hear about your dog. I have a 17-year old pup, myself. As for stress relief, I absolutely find that focusing on food preparation helps- whether that means chocolate chip cookies or braising beef for hours, I think it relaxes me, as well as keeps my hands busy. Now, if I could find a way to avoid the inevitable gorging that comes afterwards, I'd be in much better shape!

                                          1. I too am a stress baker, although I just like to cook up a storm when I'm upset. Currently I'm awaiting foot surgery after having torn a tendon and so far I've baked 6 poeach cobblers, five zucchini breads, peach turnovers, canned peaches and made peach preserves (my peach tree came in in the midst of the frenzy -- it was pretty crazy for a while. For me the focus of making recipes, along with the wonderful smells that evoke happiness even when you're not make it all worthwhile. I give most of the goodies away when I'm done.
                                            After my well-loved 15-year-old cocker spaniel died, I went home and baked a chicken -- her very favorite thing. When she got old, she'd just come and sit by the oven, so she didn't waste any energy or miss any food. She'd put her nose up and sniff and just wag her tail as the chicken cooked. It made my husband and me so sad, but we were reminded of what a good life we were able to give her and that was a small comfort.

                                            1. Typically I'm not a baker, but whenever I would get stressed in college, I would start baking up a storm. During exam periods I would put out a cake every few days and either eat it with my roommate or just give it away. Something about losing myself in the process of stirring, mixing, kneading and treating other people to something sweet in the end helped me to calm down. I always thought I was a nut, but I'm glad to know other people share the same tendency.

                                              1. The character "Izzy" on the show "Grey's Anatomy" bakes dozens and dozens of muffins after her fiance dies... once they cover the entire kitchen her friends have to have an intervention -
                                                I hate losing pets.

                                                1. I've baked two kinds of cookies and a fig clafoutis, but it is my ice cream maker that is really getting the workout during some very stressful (too much work, too few workers) time at my job.

                                                  1. My law school roommate, without question. As soon as fall finals hit, it was pumpkin bread season. In the spring, it was oatmeal raisin cookies. There was nothing like walking into our apartment at midnight after a long night of studying and having the warm, spicy, homey, comforting smell of pumpkin bread or oatmeal cookies lingering in the air. Mmmmm.... almost, almost made finals worth it.

                                                    1. I'm a stress baker and cleaner too. I was at the office the day that I learned I had breast cancer. Without telling anyone, I put on rubber gloves and went outside to clean out the cigrette receptacles outside the door. A smoker ran inside and reported to my husband and daughters what I was doing. They came running and after finding out what was wrong, my DH said, I'd rather you go home and bake something than do this. Next thing I know all the smokers are outside taking over for me and I'm headed home to bake a cake. We all had a good cry and some cake the next day.
                                                      BTW everything turned out OK and DH got me to retire shortly afterwards. Now I bake for the joy of it.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Pampatz

                                                        I am glad you came through it okay. I retired in March (I thought) got offered a new less stressful job and go back to work in Oct. I'll still have time for baking though.

                                                      2. (((Candy))) Sorry for your loss...Rest in peace, good old pup! Wish I could see your avatar a bit better...we used to be able to see the avatar better by just putting the browser over it...not happening now...when there's a personal disaster, it goes right to my stomach and I am sick for days, cannot eat nor cook...so I'm the opposite, I guess. Hope you feel better...will try the World Peace cookies.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Val

                                                          http://s3.photobucket.com/albums/y75/...

                                                          There are my girls. Luckily Suzy and Loulou are 4&2 I have a ways t go with them, hopefully.
                                                          Thanks much on the condolences. Pets are hard to loose

                                                          1. re: Candy

                                                            What sweet girls -- glad you have Suzy and Loulou to lessen the sting. They always seem to know when you need some extra love.

                                                            I've always been the type to hole up when I'm stressed or down, but you've inspired me. My parents are coming to visit tomorrow and they'll have some World Peace cookies waiting for them when they get here!

                                                        2. Thinking along the lines of "Are you a cook or a baker?" it occurred to me that baking is more comforting in times of stress because (a )it is a formula and you can follow instructions and it will come out well and (b) baked goods are generally comfort food.

                                                          Judy was a lovely dog - my fierce red Irish terrier girls will miss her.

                                                          1. Hi.. I'm PG and I'm a stress cooker... and a compulsive cleaner. Whether it be baking or cooking a curry from first principles, or kneading bread or chopping veggies.. I turn to cooking when I am stressed.

                                                            Even when I come home from work, I like to cook as a way of relaxing. It's so very Zen to cook and chop and measure. it makes me feel like I am in control of SOMETHING!!!!

                                                            When my father died earlier this year, I was the one taking food to everyone's houses!!!

                                                            Vale your pup, too, BTW.

                                                            1. Sorry about your dog!

                                                              But as you can see by all the replies, you're not alone -- another stress baker here. Cookies, mostly. I'm trying to push myself toward stress cooking instead -- healthy veggie soups, stir fries, etc. so that the stress cooking doesn't veer too deep into the stress eating (or if it does, I'm gorging myself on healthy vegetable soup).

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Dizzied

                                                                When my cousin died of breast cancer (in her 30's with 2 young sons) I could not get to Boston for the services. I think I made the best minestrone soup I have ever made. All of that chopping was very therapeutic and calming.

                                                                1. re: Dizzied

                                                                  My mom had a mini health scare the other day, and while everything is okay, her cholesterol is too high, so I stress baked her some blueberry bran almond muffins last night (bran and almonds help lower cholesterol). They still had eggs and oil in them, but they tasted great, are good for her, and were an excellent stress reliever! And now she has almost 2 dozen in her freezer to pul out and have for breakfast.

                                                                  And I have to say, I find making risotto to be a great stress reliever -- all that chopping and stirring helps. I don't even like risotto that much, but I make it sometimes when I've had a tough day!

                                                                  1. re: JasmineG

                                                                    Ground flax seed in yogurt is a good cholesterol lowerer too. I just grind a little at a time in a spice grinder. It loses potency if ground and kept around too long.

                                                                2. i fell in love with a book calle "blue jelly" about a woman who makes jam and jellies... cans, to deal with life trauma/stress. Everyone whould be so blessed to have an outlet like we do:)

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: chefarella

                                                                    Amen!

                                                                  2. My 13 year old lab Daisy died in my arms yesterday morning. I knew a little piece of me died with her. We took her to be cremated and on the way home I stopped at the market and Wal Mart. I bleached and mopped and dusted and scrubbed. Then I cooked. Red Velvet cake, fried chicken, mac n cheese, burgers, lemonade...Its a nice fall day today...dhilly and windy and perfectly September. I think Im going to the apple farm for some therapy.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: chelleyd01

                                                                      So sorry about Daisy, as you can see you are not alone in cooking therapy. I hope it all helped.Candy

                                                                      1. re: Candy

                                                                        I am so so sorry for the losses of your pets Candy, Emme and Chelley. They are part of the family and will be in your hearts forever. I am a total stress baker and I nerver realized it until now. Earlier this year, my cat had a heart attack and we thought my husb was having one at the same time! I had to call 911-I did not know what to do! It is 3 am, the cat is dying on the floor and my husband is being rushed to the hospital. After the paramedics arrived and told me it was not a heart attack, I rushed the cat to the emergency 24 hour vet. Needless to say, he died on the way. (the cat-enlarged heart). Husband was fine. I have my kitties ashes too. To get back to the subject, I baked all day long. And now I have some ideas of what to do with my goods instead of me eating them thanks to you guys. The local nursing home will be seeing me with a bundle of goodies the next time I feel the need to bake.

                                                                    2. Sorry to hear about your puppy Candy - we had to put our 13 year old cat to sleep three weeks ago and I baked and cooked like a fiend the following weekend. Cooking in general is stress relief for me but the more stressed i am the more elaborate and laborious the recipes.

                                                                      My husband still says he never ate as well as after 9/11.

                                                                      1. My condolences, candy! Like others posters, I think stress-baking is totally normal. I enter as evidence the character Izzie Stephens on Grey's Anatomy, who baked all those scones/cookies/tortes instead of sleeping on so many nights after her fiance died. I myself spent several of my teenage years trying to master pie crust. I baked dozens of freaking pies, and I think at least part of that had to do with the stress of puberty (so trivial now that I'm old.) In any case, bake as much as you want, as often as you want. Your friends and co-workers will thank you, except if they're on a diet :)

                                                                        1. I do that too! Focusing on a recipe helps me not focus on other things, plus there's the satisfaction of the finished product. It's an automatic thing for me, though. And the World Peace cookies are fabulous ...

                                                                          I'm sorry about your dog. :(

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                            Thank you. I almost got the urge today to make more. The hips definitely don't need it but I may make some as Halloween Goodies for my DH's staff. Maybe an orange pumpkin face on each one???? I think a little ornge flavored icing might be a good complimentary flavor.

                                                                            1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                              Ok, I realized recently that if I'm really stressed, I should just stay out of the kitchen -- things just don't work right, and they may end up on the floor. Last night, however, I managed to distract myself with two fairly involved recipes for Halloween, and they turned out just fine! :)

                                                                            2. Baking is therapy to me as well...thought I was a rarity, but I see I am not! Like Candy and Emme, when I lost my long time pal, my dog, Bandit...i was too sick to do anything for days, but I baked like a possessed soul.

                                                                              I say whatever works, and saves us true therapy bills!

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: jennisad

                                                                                I am sorry about your Bandit. My MD who is a lurker here was a recipient of some of the World Peace cookies (each time I drop something off at his office he tells me that is the best thing I ever made...It will be hard to top these). I said you know sometimes Xanax or Clonapin or booze won't do it. Cooking therapy, baking or making soup or whatever is the only way you can relax and feel like you have some control over what is happening. Healthier too especially if you get the sweet stuff out of your house and to people who really appreciate it.

                                                                                I really should have gone to it when I left my job earlier in the year and felt at a total loss and like i just did not know what I was going to do, I just did not want to do that anymore. I would have gained to much weight unless i sent everything of the the DH's office, but as Gomer used to say SHAZAM! A plum job came looking for me.

                                                                                1. re: Candy

                                                                                  How ironic...I myself am going through a job change after 7 years...STRESSFUL! Even if it is a change you initiated. I just made over 100 chocolate peanut butter cookies...good thing my boyfriend is a football coach and can drop them with the coaches!

                                                                                  World Peace cookies...what exactly is that?

                                                                                  1. re: jennisad

                                                                                    http://www.leitesculinaria.com/recipe... This is same recipe, it was renamed in Dorie Greeenspan's book Cooking From My Home To Yours. It is an ice box cookie and sinfully good. I used Scharffen Berger cocoa and their 70% bitter sweet chocolate in them. After you make the dough you roll it into logs and wrap well. You can even freeze the dough logs and just slic as many off as you want to bake at a time.

                                                                                    I went through 15 years I came to hate thoroughly. I am going to be the asst. manager in a cooking equipment shop. I wasn't really looking and got an amazing offer. I hope your new job will be fulfilling too.

                                                                                    CKG

                                                                                    1. re: Candy

                                                                                      ohhh...those look so good. Yup, I will have to make those next. Chocolate on chocolate cannot be beat! Thank you!

                                                                                      Your new job sounds fun!! I hope both of our new ventures are successful!

                                                                              2. So sorry about your pup. Ours are about 8 and middle aged and I can't bring myself to think about them getting any older. I absolutely bake for stress relief. That's how I got through law school - my friends loved finals time. I mostly did/do cookies & cakes. They're quicker than bread, so more instant gratification.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: aziek1

                                                                                  Thanks, I have 2 others that are 2&4. I think next time I am stress baking it will be Bernie Clayton's recipe for dog biscuits. That would be kinder to my waist.

                                                                                2. My German Shepherd died in her sleep last night, and I just took two dozen chocolate cupcakes out of the oven. Luckily, I have some red and some yellow food coloring, so they will get some orange frosting, and be a nice Halloween treat for my office.