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Artist Date: Ketogenic Carrot Cupcakes

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Cupcakes are the forgiving creatures of baking. This week, to alleviate from the harsh cold winter, I decided to bake something comforting with a low chance of failure. Coz sometimes we just need a small, sunny win. Creative work, in particular, is all about baby steps. 

Why Bake?

I stayed away from baking for a long time because whatever I made–cakes, cupcakes, loaves of banana bread–made me eat way more than I should. I’m one of those people who finds it difficult to have a surplus of goodies in my kitchen; a glaring, evident sign I need to heal my relationship with treats. It pains me to this day how I avoided doing something I love for years because I didn’t trust myself. When I’m at home, if there’s a dessert that hasn’t been consumed, it stares at me until I cave. Many times I don’t even have a craving–it’s just hard-wired in me to eat it right away.

But I wanted to bake. A few days earlier, I decided to reset my sugar habit (it was getting out of control). Having too much sugar was clouding my thinking and my periods have been so irregular I don’t remember the last time I had one (side effect of having Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)). As much as I hate dieting, sometimes I need to bite the bullet to get back on a healthy eating track.

For me, the problem with a healthy eating track is I tend to eat the same foods over and over. I then get bored and fall off the wagon. If you suffer from the same fate, I say try different recipes, especially if they have ingredients you’re unfamiliar with.

On my weekly jaunt to Winners (a discount store here in Canada), I came across a keto carrot cupcake mix. I thought, ok, here’s my chance to try something different instead of my usual chocolate desserts. I liked that it was a cake mix, because I’m learning to let go of doing things perfectly (which in this case, would be making the mix from scratch. Too much time, stress and energy–NOT what Artists Dates are about).

Ingredients…tasty ingredients

Baking is a science, not an art. But I’m only baking for myself and as much as I struggle with the high demands of perfection, I was determined to be ok if I hadn’t followed the directions to a T.  Too much precision and detail are overwhelming and make me want to walk away.

My baking date took a couple of hours and I gotta say, I loved it! The cupcakes themselves turned out ok. I wouldn’t sell them at the next boujie farmer’s market but they satisfied my sugar craving. No late-night trip to the convenience store for that tub of Ben and Jerry’s for me!

Getting ready to melt my butter

Observations from Baking

Here are some notes on how my baking artist date was enjoyable:

  1. Bought a light aquamarine muffin pan, deviating from the standard industrial metal gray colours. I don’t pay attention to something as innocuous as the colour of a muffin pan but it was oddly soothing. It was like being inside a cake store and I’m convinced it lightened my mood.
Cupcakes
Who knew the muffin pan colour could have cheered me up?
  1. I actually enjoyed taking the photos and realized that the process is important when it comes to building a peaceful creative mindset. As you may know, taking photos is one of the most frustrating creative tasks for me, but focusing on one question at a time e.g. “How can this photo get better? Well, I could remove the horrible bag of flour at the back,”  helped with staying present. The sequential questions– when asked one by one– calmed me down, as opposed to surveying the image and thinking of all the million things that were wrong with it. One by one, I started to pay attention to angles and then lighting and then composition. Baby steps.
  2. I love the mess my baking created, because it made my kitchen look lived in! I grew up in a home that was clinical in order and cleanliness which probably contributed to my perfectionism. Revelling in the mess made me feel like I was in the middle of a fun circus. With this observation, I started to wonder if a minimal Marie Kondo approach to my home keeping really is the way to go for me. 
  3. I love baking while listening to Jazz. It’s improvisational, which subconsciously helped me go with the flow.
  4. There were a few times I had to get creative with my tools. For example, I used a muffin pan instead of an 8-inch pan which I didn’t have, and hand-beating my cream frosting mix because I didn’t have an electric mixer. When deciding to bake, it’s easy to abandon a recipe if you don’t have the right equipment, but with google-searching curiosity, you’d be surprised at how much you could work with what you already have.
No electric mixer = wrist workout

So, how did the cupcakes actually taste?

The cupcakes were…average. For a keto cupcake with no sugar, it was acceptable. I tend to shy away from carrot cakes because they always have raisins, which I HATE in anything. I like raisins alone, but when you put them in rice or cakes or salads….no. It’s a texture issue for me.

Conclusion: I love baking. It’s a good way to blow off steam. And I need to make peace with having a big cake or bunch of cupcakes without worrying I’ll eat them all in one go. 

Cupcakes
Keto and decaf coffee. Sounded boring but not so much…

I’m inspired to try more low-carb baking recipes. Maybe lemon?

Wanna bake something new? Questions to ask yourself

  1. Are you bored of your usual go-to’s and want to try a new recipe? I didn’t realize I was in a culinary rut until I made my cupcakes. 
  2. Aside from the reward of having a great treat in the end, what do you like about baking? I loved that my house looked messy, and I was trying something new and it may have made me actually like taking photos.
  3. If you’re not someone who bakes regularly (or you’re just a non-baker), what is it about baking you think you might like? One of my friends enjoys the process of going to the supermarket to get the ingredients. The experience made her look forward to running her errands while looking at fancy flours and tubes of vanilla pods. Like her, I too loved shopping in the baking aisle!

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