Some of us call our­selves cooks. Oth­ers of us are known bak­ers. In most cir­cles, it’s unusual to find some­one highly skilled at both. When the hol­i­days cir­cle around, even those in the “mar­ginal bak­ers’ cat­e­gory find an excuse to break out the rolling pins, cookie cut­ters, bak­ing sheets and cake pans.

Fol­low­ing a recipe for bars, balls or cook­ies shaped like Santa requires atten­tion to detail. Adher­ing to the mea­sure­ments and direc­tions is so dif­fer­ent from just adding a splash of this or a pinch of that.

Restraint and com­pli­ance seem like strong attrib­utes of a good baker. Pre-​chilling the bowl, but­ter and beat­ers is not just a “good idea”. It turns out, this could be the dif­fer­ence in suc­cess or fail­ure. Who knew? Actual bak­ers who take direc­tions seri­ously? Yeah, those guys.

The angst in bak­ing can be linked to the fact that desserts or sweet treats are always the stars of the show. Any cel­e­bra­tion, birth­day or oth­er­wise, has the pres­sure of deliv­er­ing a spec­tac­u­lar some­thing with can­dles or stun­ning dec­o­ra­tions.

Exquis­ite dec­o­rat­ing skills are no acci­dent. Set the stage for achieve­ment by way of invest­ing in some equip­ment that is easy to work with.
Depend­ing on the bak­ing assign­ment, molds and cut­ters, fluted tart pans, icing tips and bags or spe­cial food col­or­ings and can­dies will make the pre­sen­ta­tion spot­light wor­thy.

“Prac­tice makes per­fect” applies to bak­ing. YouTube videos and Food Network/​Netflix shows give an up close look at what to do and what to avoid.

Exper­i­men­ta­tion wel­comes artistry. This will also infuse some light­hearted hol­i­day time when fam­ily and friends join in. Pre­pare pre­baked goods for a dec­o­rat­ing party. Assem­ble a myr­iad of fin­ish­ing frost­ings, sprin­kles, can­dies, nuts and dried fruits.

Invited guests are encour­aged to apply their own per­sonal touch to gin­ger­breads, cook­ies and bars. This tal­ent show puts every­one on equal ground. Indi­vid­ual artistry quickly draws out per­son­al­ity and per­spec­tive.

From pen­guins to snowflakes, per­sonal pref­er­ences prompt our best work. Along the way, hol­i­day mem­o­ries add to the hum of the kitchen.

Sep­a­rat­ing the ama­teurs from the real bak­ers is incon­se­quen­tial. Dessert magic hap­pens in that spe­cial zone when cre­ativ­ity is flow­ing. Grab a spat­ula and hand out the aprons. Top prize is sat­is­fac­tion in the process, not the outcome.

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