by Liz Weidhorn
The phrase “I live with no regrets” has never been uttered from my lips. Don’t get me wrong—I’m a relatively happy person, but I, unfortunately, feel regretful a lot. I regret that I didn’t work harder in school. I regret that I gave up on my theater dreams so early (after about 5 rejections I threw in the towel). I regret that I spent most of the time in my 20s wearing sweatpants. Don’t get me started on the numerous times I regret sticking my foot in my mouth. I once told my cousin, who had twin babies, that being a dog owner was just as difficult (I’m cringing with you right now). Years later, when I did become a mom, I realized two things: 1. being a parent to a human baby is much harder than I thought; 2. I wanted to stop creating future regrets. That’s how my baking project was born.
My love for baking all started with a home-made loaf of bread in a New York City apartment. I yearned to live in New York City my whole life. I finally got my chance and moved in on September 10, 2001. Needless to say, the world changed the next day. Missing person signs were plastered around the city. The smoky, putrid smells that would blow up from lower Manhattan were almost too much to bear. The city was on edge, and very sad. I found myself in the kitchen a lot during those days, weeks, and months afterwards. I just needed to be comforted, and baking and eating bread did that for me. Soon cakes, cupcakes and cookies were added to my repertoire. I also joined Weight Watchers around this time, but that’s neither here nor there.
When I had my children some years later, baking provided an outlet for me again, in a different way. Being a stay-at-home mom is wonderful, but it can be a lonely existence. My inner voice started sounding like Dora the Explorer. I showered maybe two times a week. I got swept up in the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, for goodness sake! I needed help. I needed to do something for me, to better myself. I decided to take my home-baking hobby to the next level. I was a good baker, but I wanted to become an expert. Since there was no time for pastry school I thought I would create my own curriculum and teach myself. That Christmas, the only thing I asked for was the book On Baking by Sarah R. Labensky, Priscilla A. Martel and Eddy Van Damme.
I went through each chapter and wrote out a lesson plan. My goal was to bake twice a week from the many baking books and baking magazines I own, and use On Baking as my guide. I started perusing wonderful baking blogs for inspiration, and that’s when it occurred to me to start my own. Why not document this journey? Maybe while I teach myself I could also teach someone else. This idea excited me; I was going to make sure I’d never regret this moment in my life, and so Project Pastry Love launched on April 12, 2014.
It has been a year of baking over 70 desserts (and a few savory dishes) and blogging about each one. Having a website to manage hasn’t been easy. Sometimes I get so caught up in Facebook likes, Twitter followers, and Pintrest repins that I feel like the blogging part is overshadowing my baking endeavor. It wasn’t until I was watching the “Great British Bake-Off” on PBS that I had my “Aha” moment. The contestants were making the famous Swedish dessert the Princess Torte, and I realized that their challenge was something I had learned how to do. I knew how to make all the components of the torte from scratch—the genoise cake, the pastry cream, the whipped cream and the marzipan—and I knew how to assemble it. I knew all of this because of my baking project.
I am far from being an expert baker, but I’ve come a long way in just a year. I may not have the most popular food blog on the internet today, but I have a handful of followers that love learning about baking and pastry as much as I do. In the end, I am doing what I set out to do. I’ve never done that before! And I will never regret it.
Liz Weidhorn lives in northern New Jersey with her husband Aron, and two young boys, Cameron and Wesley. As a stay-at-home mom she spends her day cleaning house, playing make-believe, digging in the dirt, and feeding tiny humans all before hitting the wall around 4PM. She also can be found in her kitchen baking for her blog Project Pastry Love.