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Innovation in baking

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been serving as a teen director in a camp located in the Midwest. Over the course of the program, I spend time innovating activities that I think the campers would appreciate. Tonight’s teen night activity included a bake-off, one that was different than what you might expect. The teens were broken up into groups and handed classic ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa…) and were told to prepare a cake with one caveat – they weren’t given a recipe. I wanted to see what they would conjure up with only the cakes components and no instruction.

I’ll bet you wonder what happened. Well, two of the four cakes weren’t bad, and two were even quite good. When I asked the winning team about the strategies they used, the commented that ‘it wasn’t about the ingredients, it was about the process.’ They had lined up their selected ingredients in front of them and decided what needed to be added first. They began with the thin, wet ingredients and then slowly added the other ingredients, with the thickest ones being added last. It was almost as if the amount of sugar was less important than the order it was mixed into the cake. The seemingly important details was insignificant in as far as the bigger picture went.

After reflecting on their response, I further understood its ramifications. How often are we stuck on all the details, that one had to be done a certain way or at a certain time, but in reality, these little details were not the deal breaker. If we would have just let the process guide us, and had a little more patience, we would have rode out the challenge until the end. But instead we become flustered, upset that our papers are not in their places or that the coffee for the meeting hasn’t arrived. Is it frustrating that these details weren’t properly taken care of? Yes. But can we still have a flawless outcome without them? Well, it depends on our reactions. If we lose our cool, and allow our entire day to be thrown off because of a cup of coffee, then our day will probably only continue downhill. But if we take a moment to regain our cool and allow ourselves to refocus on our ultimate goal, we can emerge stronger and get back on track more efficiently.

The next time you bake and are missing an ingredient, remind yourself that the process is more important. And let’s just hope that ingredient isn’t the sugar:)

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