I am always slightly behind the times. But even I can’t fail to notice that baking has suddenly become the height of fashion.
I know this because it was not only on the cover of my Daily Telegraph, but also on the cover of my secret vice, The Lady. Yes, I was hoping to read another nice interview with Gareth Malone with my morning coffee – and instead I find yet another person generously sharing their secrets for creating the perfect Victoria Sponge.
It did not inspire me to get my mixing bowl out.
I blame my mother, of course. Every year, we had to take a home-baked cake to Guide Camp. Every year, she would send me off with a supermarket version that she hadn’t even tried to disguise in Bacofoil.
One despairing Girl Guide friend did try to teach me to bake a cake. I fear I was not a natural, as I didn’t try to bake another one until my son’s first birthday, around 18 years later. Annabel Karmel said the recipe was foolproof. It wasn’t.
But even if it had been: why on earth would I want to bake anything? Maybe in another universe, I would have smiley children who took turns and waited to lick the proverbial spoon. But in real life, baking means:
Drawing up battle-lines in the kitchen and counting out grains of flour, lest one child feel that the other has had preferential flour-treatment.
Mess. Two children plus one hand-mixer equals yet another thing for me to clean up. If the children try to clean up, I then have to clean up their cleaning attempts.
Washing up. Why does baking always require 35 bowls and 150 spoons?
Attempted manslaughter. When my son was obsessed with Chemistry, his baking powder (contaminated by copper sulphate) somehow got muddled up with the one we use for baking. Our guests found the blue flecks inside the scones somewhat unappetising.
I’m sure that I ought really to like baking. All real mummies like baking. But in that case, I will remain an unreal mummy – and when my children’s birthdays roll around again, I will send up yet another prayer of thanks to Marks and Spencer.