As the months become progressively colder, it’s time to rug up in your winter woollies and hibernate.

Every winter, my attempts to become healthier and fitter fall to the wayside when the warmth of my doona overrides the bitterly cold air outside. It’s much easier to jog and ride a bike when the morning is actually daylight and the temperature registers in double digits.

So I feel obliged to remain inactive. But there will always be an exception to the rule: baking.

I love the entire process. From deciding what to bake — usually that decision has already been made based on what ingredients remain available and whether I can decipher the instructions with confidence — to eating it fresh from the oven.

Health conscious individuals may be concerned with the high sugar consumption, but if you think about the process involved in baking, it’s practically a sport. Stirring through a thick mixture of batter will banish any flabby granny arms. While sifting lumpy flour requires short, deft movements and will build quick reflexes. We all know the consumption of these sugary delights is just a by-product of maintaining balance to all that physical activity.

But my favourite part of baking is pulling the freshly baked treat out of the oven. Hearing the timer “brrringgg” loudly to let me know it’s all ready, breathing in the sweet aroma wafting through the open oven door and piercing the crusty top of a cake with a skewer are just a few of the joys of baking.

You don’t have to be a member of the Country Women’s Association to bake. I made my baking debut at age seven with a White Wings pre-mix banana cake. I carefully analysed the pictorial instructions on the back of the box and quickly set about retrieving the ingredients. Two cracked eggs, three-quarters of a cup of water, three tablespoons of margarine, pre-mix flour and some haphazard stirring — I was done.

I poured the pale caramel-coloured mixture into the round cake tin, after my mum showed me how to grease the tin and tap with flour; and then slid it into the hot oven. I was impatient and felt that watching the cake rise through the glass door was simply not enough. So every couple of minutes I would gently yank the handle to take a peek. After 45 minutes of painful waiting, I was given permission to open the oven door. I danced around as my mum showed me her skewer and said it was done. Standing on the tips of my toes, I looked at my work in self-admiration — slightly flat and sunken in the middle, but to me it was all mine.

While I have lost the impatience and expanded my repertoire to include muffins, tortes, breads and biscuits, my desire to bake hasn’t diminished. Here is a non pre-mix banana cake recipe from Best Recipes you can try tonight:

Ingredients:

  • 125g butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla essence
  • 1 egg
  • 2 ripe bananas mashed
  • 1 ½ cups self-raising flour
  • ¼ cup milk

Method:

  1. Melt butter, sugar and vanilla in medium sized saucepan
  2. Remove from heat
  3. Add mashed bananas and stir through until blended
  4. Add egg and mix in well. Stir in flour, add milk and mix lightly
  5. Bake at 170 degrees for about 40 minutes

Peter Fray

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