Have you ever desperately wanted to make a food dish, but you're not sure how to, so you decide to give up? I have the same tactic, except this time, I’m putting it to the test and retrying what I have hoped to accomplish—making macarons. The french pastry is “composed of two shells and a filling in the middle. The shells are made with almond flour, egg white and sugar,” according to Pastreez. Come along the journey with me to discover some everyday student lessons and tactics I use in the process of making macarons and how that process turned me into a better student.
Finding a good macaron recipe is beyond hard; around the time of March 2020, I got seriously into baking overall, and macarons were one of my first couple desserts I attempted that ended up horrifically. The beautiful and elegant cookies I had imagined came out looking like pink, mini, hockey pucks. When I finally found a recipe that didn’t have excessive instructions, I got to baking. I discovered that when baking, it’s easier to get all the ingredients and measuring tools that you need out before you start baking anything so that everything is in front of you and you don’t pace through the kitchen every minute or so.
This helped me with research and organization and opened my eyes to the fact that staying organized is not only important and helpful to you when completing a task, but it also affects your success, training, development and performance, as I learned from the American Psychological Association. Select Health taught me that even when you're not cooking or baking, organization is crucial because it is proven to keep the mind relaxed when attempting any task benefiting your mental health and happiness. I can relate to this organization tactic when I’m trying to complete work: a clean desk space puts me in the mindset that allows me to keep a steady working pace and feel in control when working.
Furthermore, Robert Everett from CakeFlix stated that baking a cake can help people with the following: mathematical thinking, creativity, accepting failures, experimenting, critical thinking, concentration, problem-solving, and flexibility in regards to following instructions and measurements. Through Everett's article, he explains how baking can be an enjoyable and time-consuming activity for people of any age; he concludes with the fact that “baking offers young people a chance to be praised for their accomplishments.” Caroline Duda from Sheknows supports Everett’s idea by explaining that baking can teach people, more specifically students, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) lessons. Duda expands on this idea by exploring seven different benefits of baking that allow students to master STEM lessons. Overall, Everett and Duda’s pieces show that baking is beneficial academically.
This leads me to the habit I got into of always cleaning up after yourself to keep a clean surface to work on; from measuring sugar and butter to putting frosting in a piping bag, I saw that after any step you make it’s not only satisfying to clean up after yourself, but it puts you in the mindset that you’re ready to move on and progress. Learning how to transition from one stage of cooking to another makes you better at other kinds of transitions too, like getting from class to class, going home and starting your homework, and many more.
The first couple of times I attempted baking macarons, I made the mistake of not double-checking the recipe; I would briefly scan my next instruction and complete it, but when I was done, I’d look back at the recipe and realize I didn’t properly follow the steps. Not only was this frustrating, but it made me want to give up tremendously. Sometimes this same process happens to me with school assignments—I think I know what I’m getting myself into, but in the end something doesn't feel right, so I look back at the instructions and realize I started in the wrong direction. Although this is a disappointing process to go through, it’s better to start again than to give up.
After making macarons, I reflected back on what I had gone through to get the perfect macaron; I noticed how much patience I had to have for the procedure and how much time I had to take to really make sure what I was doing was right and was up to my standards. I learned from this that taking things at your own pace is always the best way to go. Even though others might learn or be able to finish things at a faster pace than you, it's important to understand what you're doing at a pace that works for you.
One of Rowland Hall’s math teachers, Lisa Freidman, often bakes and was generous enough to share some of her own lessons she's picked up while baking that help her in the classroom: “I think baking is about sharing with others, and that's what teaching is about too, so sometimes I'll bake and bring in my desserts for my students to thank them for hanging in there!” Personally, I think this is a beautiful message and thought that Ms. Friedman keeps and overall pushes her to be a better teacher and one that students favor. Ms. Friedman’s idea is that baking is not only for yourself but for others; baking has a connection to people's relationships and is a thoughtful way to tie a relationship together. When teaching or learning in school, the things you do for others can result in memories and stepping stones to a greater and/or more successful future. In a classroom, you don't get if you don't give, meaning that helping others with learning benefits your own learning and in all is a teamwork kind of system. Without the guidance of others, whether it be a clarifying question or how to ride a bike, learning things is much harder.
Baking is a beautiful and entertaining activity that people can learn many lessons from to help them in their future, from everyday lessons like remembering to clean up after yourself to more specific lessons that can help students, such as double checking your work. After multiple attempts of making a deliciously sweet and soft cookie that ended up tasting and looking like a hockey puck, these lessons I learned and took more into consideration resulted in a perfect macaron that I shared with family and friends.