I love baking, particularly when it starts to get chilly out (or when I am procrastinating, as I recall from grad school, that distant past when I had free time in which to procrastinate). It’s sort of unfortunate that I find actual cooking, on the other hand, to be a huge pain in the ass, despite its much higher degree of practicality. Maybe it’s because there is something just so darn homey about having a loaf of banana bread in the oven. And you can present cupcakes or a quickbread to people like little gifts in a way that is somehow more satisfying than, no offense Harper, watching a toddler mushing around the chicken you sweated over.
That said, my kitchen boasts about three inches of counterspace and enough storage space for exactly one large bowl. As a result, sometimes I just can’t face the thought of actually baking. It’s doable – hey, last year I made an entire Thanksgiving dinner from scratch including a pie – but it takes a lot of energy and a lot of organization.
So when I wanted to bring something autumnal and friendly to a playdate/meeting recently, I turned to a mix. It felt sorta cheesy, but it was also, hello, really easy! I got the Stonewall Pantry apple spice muffin mix, which comes in such a pretty box that it almost feels more like you’re actually baking, somehow. In one bowl I mixed it up with some eggs and milk and two seconds later the apartment smelled like warm cozy deliciousness.
I would recommend this mix, by the way. It came out a little dry but I was using an 8×8 bread pan instead of the muffin tins the box recommended so maybe that had something to do with it? (It was just the right amount for the pan, by the way.) I sprinkled some cinnamon sugar on top which made it feel more homemadey, and if I were going to do it again I would throw in some chopped apple. And voila – “Wow, you baked something!”
I also think a box of their scone mix along with maybe a pretty jar of preserves would make a lovely little hostess or housewarming present. Then again, as someone living without a centimeter of extra storage, I am particularly partial to gifts that are edible or perishable, like a fancy chocolate bar, fresh flowers, or a huge bag of money.