Why I Do What I Do (or Bake and Share)
I was 12 years old the first time that I picked up a spatula and faced a mixer by myself. Sure, I had been baking with my mom since I was 8 or 9, helping to stir nuts and chips into cookie dough, rolling balls of dough for pecan crescents that Mom would shape or decorating the nutmeg sugar cookies at Christmas, the only time in the year when these cookies were baked. But make a whole recipe by myself? It was sixth grade home economics class and from the moment that I pulled that first sheet of cookies from the oven, smelling all buttery, brown sugary, chocolate chippy good, I was hooked. Drop cookies, rolled cookies, bar cookies, cupcakes, sheet cakes - these were my baking repertoire. It felt good to bake a batch of cookies that tasted good. It felt even better when I saw how happy it made my brothers or sisters when they came home from college for the weekend to find their favorite cookies cooling on the kitchen counter.
Then it was my turn to go to college and it was there that I began my love affair with yeast bread. During my sophomore year at the University of Delaware, my residence hall director held a study break program where he taught us how to make a loaf of basic white bread. That was the first loaf of yeast bread I had ever made and to me it was a miracle. Beautifully domed, with a gorgeous brown crust and soft tender crumb, I was lifted up by the wisps of steam rising from that simple loaf and I knew, I just KNEW, that I had to bake more bread, different breads, savory and sweet breads, soft rolls and crusty artisan loaves. I have been baking yeast breads ever since and let me just say, really, truly, there is nothing better than the sight and smell of yeast proofing in a bowl, gearing up to work its magic. The only exception is the warm glow I get inside when I see the pleasure in my friends’ faces as they accept the loaf of freshly baked bread that I made for them.
Fast forward a few decades. For several years now I have been baking every week for my friends and staff at the local dog park. I know what they are thinking as they make their way to the park on Saturday ... What will Gloria bake this week?? Chocolate peanut butter cookies? Almond Clouds? Lemon Squares? Harvest Pumpkin Scones? So many recipes, so little time. Baking on Friday for my day at the dog park on Saturday is therapeutic for me. Why? Because as I mix, shape and bake the next day’s treat, I can see the happy smiles of my friends as they reach for a cookie or a slice of quick bread that I made for them.
Making others happy is why I do what I do. I want to help you experience the pleasure that comes with baking a new recipe or an old favorite and the even greater joy that comes with sharing your baked goods with others. You have the power to make someone feel special simply by baking his or her favorite cookie.