The tail end of fourth year is typically a relaxing experience, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it! One hobby that I’ve been pursuing with more vigor lately is baking. I’m planning to make my own wedding cake later this spring. It’s going to be pretty large – enough to serve at least 100 people! So, in preparation for this task, I’ve been practicing baking different cakes. I’ve tried out many different recipes for cake and frosting, different techniques in preparing the recipes and applying the frosting, and I’ve used countless pounds of butter and powdered sugar.
One thing that I’ve realized through this process is that my training from college and medical school has made me a force in the kitchen. In college, I majored in chemistry. I completed four years of increasingly grueling lab work and learned how to weigh, measure, heat, cool, dry, and package products. Chemistry also develops skills in reading a “recipe.” It is helpful to plan ahead by gathering certain materials in advance and to be aware of the timing and order that is necessary to combine them and successfully create a product. When I bake, I follow many of the same principles. I print out my recipe on paper, because I’ve discovered that reading it from my phone is more difficult for me. I set out my materials in groups of wet and dry ingredients and I put each ingredient away after I use it. I measure carefully, set timers, and use a food thermometer. It feels a lot like lab work, except the product is edible!
My training in medicine, and more specifically surgery, has also been helpful. I was always well aware of cross-contamination, but my experiences in surgery have made me even more aware of where my hands are and what I touch along the way. Every door knob and faucet I touch is carefully considered. This sometimes frustrates my family when they try to help out and realize that it’s very difficult to satisfy my need for cleanliness in the kitchen!
But overall, I feel like my educational background is helping my pursuit of baking. I have an eye for detail, a desire for precision, and a drive for perfection. Here’s hoping I can achieve my goal of creating a spectacular looking wedding cake. My family will have to eat cake until my practice makes perfect!