I AM not an authority on baking, but I would certainly consider myself an enthusiast. When the topic of cake comes up I become distinctly animated; offering advice, asking questions and flailing my hands about with undisguised eagerness. I’ve had a little professional training but most of my knowledge comes from hours spent in the kitchen.

My own baking errors have given me licence to warn others of the potential pitfalls just as my victories have made me an advocate for the baking ventures of others. My friends often come to me with questions about the kitchen and I’m flattered to be considered wise in this particular field. I remember, one evening last spring, receiving a flurry of phone calls from a friend mid-battle with her first banoffee pie; I was able to educate her in the sophisticated art of boiling cans of condensed milk and she learnt how to improvise a trivet.

There is, however, a downside to being the ‘baker’ of my social group; many of my friends are anxious about baking for me. Since dubbing myself ‘The Sentient Baker’ online, my birthday cakes and Christmas cookie offerings have been presented with a nervous, “Sorry they’re not as crisp/moist/tender as they should be”.

I’ve asked a good friend, and fellow baking enthusiast, to make me a cake for my wedding. She runs a successful café, selling her pretty cupcakes to a pack of loyal patrons, but when I requested the cake she adopted a worried expression. I asked her if she was simply too busy to make it, assuming she was concerned about her schedule. She laughed and said, “I’m not stressed about the time it will take, I’m stressed because I’d be baking for you!”.

I am always flabbergasted by these premature apologies and anticipations of judgement. I may be a harsh critic when it comes to trendy Swedish bakeries and £5 sourdough but I couldn’t possibly think the same way about the baking efforts of my nearest and dearest. I asked my friend to make my wedding cake because she means something to me and that is what will put her cake above all others. For me there is no greater gesture of love than a slightly sunken cupcake or a wobbly shortbread biscuit. I believe there is nothing quite so human as failure and nothing quite so delicious as undercooked brownies. The joy of baking lies not in the science of perfection but in the intangible art of comfort.