What does PhDing and baking a cake have in common?

Many people ask me what it’s like to have little ones and pursue a PhD at the same time. I think today’s post answers that, it makes you find the unlikely similarity between PhDing and baking birthday cakes. Being a mommy to toddlers and PhDing for me currently feels like living in two different planets. One moment you are trying to figure out how to write about identity and the next you are planning a first birthday party. I am criss crossing between treating nappy rash and figuring out how to link Scrivener to Zotero. Its a great accomplishment that I am sane and smiling.

So what does baking and PhDing have in common? Here is my attempt at creating some semblance between the two processes. Forgive the unlikely and forced similarly I needed an excuse to once again share my baking because I just love how this cake looked and tasted and my hope is the PhD turns out half as good.


Happy birthday Qhawe! I don’t know where the year has gone you have been a great, the best, most awesome companion to the PhD baby!

Let me start with cake making, the process of making a cake is called baking. Many people, myself included start off with a recipe. There are baking gurus who have mastered the art and don’t use recipes. The rest of us mortals the recipe tells you how much of each ingredient you need. The order in which to mix and how to mix them and the temperature and length of time the mixture should be in the oven for the ingredients to melt into each other and change into the perfect sponge that tastes like heaven is dancing on your tongue.

Try tasting the ingredients individually and you won’t have much joy. Well sugar will always be sweet but vanilla essence will leave a bitter taste albeit with a nice scent. I could never try to eat raw eggs and only my one year old is curious enough to taste flour. You get my point the individual ingredients are nowhere near the magic of the cake after it’s been through the heat of the oven.

I think a PhD is in many ways similar to baking a cake because there is a recipe. When I began my PhD journey I received guidelines of what exactly the university expected from me in order for my activities as a student to be recognized and they confer me with a doctorate. Unlike baking however I have gotten lost in the PhD maze one too many times. I was at the stage of identifying the individual ingredients for my PhD cake and the excitement and enthusiasm carried me through but after mixing them up together, I expected to see a beautiful cake that tasted divine. Instead I found myself deep in a muddy messy wet mix that did not resemble a cake one tiny bit. I had forgotten that the mix needs to go through the hot incubator oven. I would say writing is the hot oven. I somehow have to translate the many ideas coming through my research weave them together into a coherent story in my thesis report.

Does baking have anything in common with PhDing? I think it does, do you agree or have I taken this too far?


About mandlods

Blogger at candidphdtalk.wordpress.com
This entry was posted in motherhood, PhD life, reflections, writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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