Do you have something you try to go all out on for the holidays each year? What’s the thing you work yourself up about, dreaming for weeks about how epic it’s going to be, relentlessly pinning things to your Pinterest board and blowing your vision of it up into something unimaginable? The thing that you know when it finally comes time to execute you’re in way over your head?
Is it your gift list? Home decorating? Throwing the perfect holiday party?
For me, it’s holiday baking.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE holiday baking. But almost every year, my baking plans are a bit too ambitious.
This year for Thanksgiving, I set out to make two pies.
Wait, that’s not right – this year I actually set out to buy two pies. We have a small kitchen and I’ve drastically cut down on my baking supplies, so I wasn’t even going to mess with baking this year. Yet, holiday desserts are always my thing so I was going to provide the best, one way or another.
But after calling three bakeries, I changed my mind on buying. Because surely I could make my pies for less than what the local bakers were charging for a gluten-free pie.
Owning the Decision
My baking frustration started at the grocery store, before I even made it to the kitchen. The store I had in mind didn’t have every gluten-free specialty item on my list. I filled my cart then, realizing I was going to have to go to another store anyway, emptied the cart and swallowed the time wasted.
After two shopping runs to two different stores and still not finding all the ingredients I needed, I was kicking myself for not shelling out to one of the bakers. I had already spent more at the store on all these specialty ingredients than I would have if I had just let the bakers do their job. And now, of course, I still had hours of possible mayhem ahead actually making the pies. Why, why do I do this to myself?
Do you feel this way too? When you’re already too far into your decision you were so sure about that you can’t go back on it now, but you know going through with it sounds like hell?
Do you power through it mad and frustrated, or do you find a way to enjoy it and redeem yourself for the decision you made?
My Thanksgiving pie baking experience had started off on the wrong foot, but I could still whip things around.
On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, I declined Kyle’s invitation to go for a hike and committed to a morning (okay, a day) in the kitchen with my pie pans, my KitchenAid and a mimosa. If I was going to make these pies, I was going to have fun doing it, damn it.
I set my Pandora station to the Waitress musical (excellent decision for baking background music). I channeled my late grandmother, (Grandma, I bake because of you, please remind me to smile and please let my whipped cream whip). I started a calm essential oil blend going in the diffuser.
I was ready.
But I was nervous. Because not only had I set out to make two pies, but I set out to make my own whipped cream for those pies, a feat I had failed at dozens of times in my baking history. My expectations that I’d succeed at it this time were not high.
I followed the instructions to the T: Mix 2/3c. heavy whipping cream until it’s thick, add 2 tsp. powdered sugar, and keep mixing until the peaks form.
Those darn peaks.
In my long history with making whipped cream, I’ve never seen the peaks form. Part of me wouldn’t believe it was possible to turn cream into whipped, if I hadn’t seen my friend Zo do it with my own KitchenAid a couple years ago.
She had made it look so easy, and the end result changed whipped cream for me forever. There’s no going back to store-bought once you’ve seen the magic of bringing whipped cream to life. You can’t fool your taste buds once they’ve had the real thing.
Singing along to my Broadway musical soundtrack, I let the mixer run while I tended to other parts of the pie. I checked the progress every 30 seconds or so – just bubbles on the sides, no peaks. I should probably text Kyle and ask if he’ll pick up a tub of Cool Whip on his way home.
The silk part of my French Silk pie was coming together beautifully, and I was thankful that this recipe I had never made before seemed to be working out. If only for the whipped cream.
5 minutes later, still no peaks. No whip. No bowl of magical puff cloud.
But I let it mix, and mix, and mix. And I left my French silk cool. And as I went to turn the mixer off, there they were, the peaks, whipping into a fluffy, airy cloud of dairy delight.
It was magic before my eyes.
This was the moment I learned that homemade whipped cream doesn’t happen in an instant. That I had failed to make successful whipped cream in the past because I gave up before the 5-minute mark. If peaks weren’t happening by then, surely they were never coming.
But with all good things in life, whipped cream takes time. It takes consistent whipping. Above all, it takes patience.
You can’t give up on it if you don’t see results right away.
And if you’ve ever had homemade whipped cream, you know that it is so worth it.
Commit to the Process
You know what happens when you set out to make two pies, get pissed off about making the two pies, then recommit and have fun with making two pies? You make three pies. And cupcakes.
I spent many hours in the kitchen on Saturday baking more than I needed, and with a little help from the Waitress soundtrack and Grandma watching over me, I enjoyed every minute of it.
Whatever you set out to achieve this holiday season, don’t let your own high expectations and chaotic grocery stores get the best of you. Remember why you wanted to do it, find the best way you can have fun doing it, and commit to the process. Have patience, and you’ll reach your peaks.
*Tip: If you set out to make homemade whipped cream, apparently starting with a chilled bowl and mixers speeds up the process. But still, patience is good 😉