Baking is an experience. It values precision. There is a reward to a well-kept process.
Cooking often rewards creativity. There are many recipes for the stove top or oven which value tasting as you go. There is a show of technique.
Baking is a little different.
(I am not saying anything new here, of course)
To bake, you must follow directions.
There are opportunities for creativity, too, but you must first understand how the dough works. Or the batter. Or the mix.
There is precision in baking not only in the oven but in the path your ingredients take. Mix and knead and pull and stretch and you will not get a muffin.
It is this precision in baking I enjoy. There is a method to follow. Details matter. Precision matters.
If you enter my kitchen, yes, I have a thermometer. I use it to check my baked goods.
I weigh my ingredients – again, precision.
My oven thermometer is checked often as well. Control over variables is important.
But there is room for art. My loaves get cut in patterns or decorated with different seeds and toppings.
Pretzels are tied in fun shapes.
Cakes get decorated. Muffins have differing top sizes. Even pancakes can be used for drawing!
It has never been true that hewing to directions prohibits creativity. You only need to be more creative to make it work!
Of course, beyond the process, the end result is rewarding. I have yet to hear someone complain about the smell of fresh baked bread.
Or being able to spread butter on a warm muffin.
Dipping a hot pretzel into hot mustard.
Even listening to the crust crackle as a sourdough boule cools. Baking and the floury arts are a fun and rewarding hobby. It is like woodworking or welding. Perhaps with less danger.
Though, getting oven burns is no fun.