What Baking Means to You

cake piped with pink and purple piped buttercream decoration

I’m sharing a different kind of post today. It’s not a recipe, it’s not an update on life. It’s a short post where we can all reflect on what baking means to us, either how insignificant or how profound. I encourage you to share!

What Baking Means to Me

Besides being an obvious means to an end (a baked good), the act of baking is a form of my self expression. I create what I want to create, however little or magnificent that baked good may be.

When I worked a 9-5 job in a corporate environment, coming home and baking cupcakes (even from a box mix!) helped me relax and unwind. It simply “felt like me.” In a job where I didn’t have much creative freedom, baking truly kept me fulfilled and energized.

And, not to mention, it’s a double whammy of awesomeness– baking makes me happy and baked goods make everyone happy. Spreading joy is immensely powerful.

I was able to make a career out of this passion. 8 years later, baking still provides the same amount of joy and creative freedom. But on a more serious note, baking also helps manage my anxiety. A chronic worrier since my teen years, I find the structure and focus that baking requires to be soothing. I’m in control of the outcome (well, mostly!) and that control is important during times that my anxiety feels debilitating. Baking is my work, my “me time,” and, well, my medicine. I’m really grateful I’m able to do it.

It’s not just about baking cookies, it’s about the joy and calm that come with it. What baking is to me may be knitting, painting, reading, running, yoga, or music to someone else. How profound that a hobby can be a form of therapy.

So what does baking mean to you?

Bowl of cream cheese buttercream frosting

342 Comments

  1. That’s a beautiful reflection, Sally 🙂 The best hobbies are the ones that are fun, therapeutic, and a blessing to others at the same time. I have always enjoyed cooking, but was very intimidated and confused by baking until I found your website. All your explanations and tips have given me the confidence to start! Now, I KNOW I can make great pizza and great muffins, and if the time ever comes where I actually bake a cake 😉 I know that with your help I could do that too! To me, baking has become an interesting and rewarding new hobby, which has seriously boosted my confidence and skill in the kitchen. So grateful for all you do!

    1. Hey Samantha! Thank you so much for taking the time to add to this post. I totally agree that baking is a confidence booster. Like any hobby, it requires practice and the more you practice, the better and more confident you become. What a mood booster!

  2. I love to bake when I’m stressed or upset but I LOVE baking for others. Baking means love to me. I take great care in picking out a recipe that I know someone will enjoy based off their tastes and it makes my heart so happy when they enjoy it! I also love how it brings my 6 year old and Itogether, she repeatedly drew and wrote about us baking all through the year and I hope she loves to bake when she has babies of her own to share in it with

    1. This totally warms my heart and hits home with me. My daughter has already started to “help” me in the kitchen. I also love to thoughtfully bake for others based off of what I know they’ll enjoy the most. So rewarding. Thank you so much for sharing all this!

  3. Baking is my outlet for creativity and also a great stress reliever. When fibromyalgia gets me down, I bake.
    I love reading recipes (especially yours!) and planning what I’m going to make.
    I love the way my house smells. And I love making people happy by giving them a special treat.

  4. I have always enjoyed baking. Baking for me is relaxing. When my son was small we would make spritz cookies at Christmas. I still continue to make spritz cookies every Christmas. Some of your recipes have become my new additions to Christmas baking. I love your recipes.

  5. For me, baking means to spend quality time with myself. Whenever I am free from my hectic schedule I always prefer to bake. Your recipes are amazing. I tried one your recipe on my mom’s birthday and it gives me huge hit as everybody likes your recipes.
    I went to one site where I get ideas regarding cake decoration. If you are more into craft you can try winni.in once.

    Thanks for sharing your delicious recipes!!

    1. Thank you so much for adding to this post! While I love baking with others, I really cherish it as my “me time” too.

  6. Baking has always been therapeutic for me and has also helped in some ways to manage stress and anxiety. I read an article recently about how many younger people right now are turning to baking to deal with anxiety and I love the idea of people turning to something offline to bring joy to their lives. I recently started a second baking baked project to deal with the burnout I was feeling with my job. It’s been seriously magical.

    1. It may have been a different article, but I read that many more people are using baking and cooking as a form of stress relief these days too. Is it cheesy to say that baking heals? It really does!

    1. I couldn’t agree more. I also feel there’s comfort and calm when I do baking, or making rotis.
      I’ve always been anxious and insecure. Baking, or rolling out those rotis really are a soothing balm for me.

  7. Baking. I’ve never thought of it as work. I suppose learning to cook up on moms countertop is one of my first memories. I grew up with mom and her mom baking for all the holidays for 20 people. My 4-H years were all so exciting to win blue ribbons. Of course my kids learned to cook on a chair by the counter,(seemed safer) with me. At potlucks I always brought half my kitchen. I baked with neighbor kids, sending them home with a plate of cookies for later. The mom’s were always so thankful. I was the 4-H cooking leader and not only did I help the kids learn cooking, but also teaching that sharing them with others was a special treat. To this day, baking to me is love. I mail or give away so much some weeks. I see true joy when people know it’s made from scratch. When people find out I bake I find out what their favorites are and bake it! Maybe an old recipe their mom or grandma used to bake. I’ve done that since I was 20. Making breads, cookies and cupcakes taste and look as good as a store makes me feel good. But baking and giving away makes my heart so happy. Those who buy or I bless with, also gets a free hug. Loaves of Love is me!

  8. Sally,
    Your passion for baking rings familiar to me and baking is also my outlet for depression and anxiety. I’ve always battled depression and anxiety but never more than when I had post partum with both of my babies. Overnight I went from having a successful career and active social life to being a stay at home mom in a new city where my friends didn’t live. Baking was my outlet, it’s how I connected with other people and it’s how I found joy and purpose outside of my beautiful little family. Baking is soothing to me because I can control what is happening in a world that sometimes seems out of control and baking allows me to bring smiles and joy to peoples faces and that is probably my favorite thing about baking. I’ve done so many cakes now for my kids birthdays and their friends birthdays and the joy in a kids eyes when you bring their favorite characters to life through cake is enough to soothe any anxiety or depression…except when I burn that cake or accidentally over salt my buttercream then I might cry and I might require husband intervention in the forms of hugs and a reminder that it’s just cake, HA! Thanks for such an awesome question, I have been so busy raising two kiddos and being a full time student that I haven’t made enough time for baking lately but I’m going to be changing that because this post reminded me that on my most stressful days I can whip up some cookies and brighten everyone’s day 🙂

    1. Jenn, thank you so much for sharing your thoughtful response! So much of what you said rings true for me too. I get it. I hope you can find more time to bake soon. Those healing properties are important! 🙂

  9. Baking brings me so much happiness, however, I love the happiness it brings to everyone else. Today, I made my husband strawberry rhubarb pie since it’s Father’s Day and I know it’s his favorite. The joy it brought him was overwhelming. I also like being creative and spending time researching recipes and ideas. I really enjoy being apart of Sally’s baking group and being inspired by others as well!

  10. Calm creativity were the first two words that came to mind.
    Expressive engineering are good descriptors as well.
    Thank you for this is good to reflect on. Enjoy the journey and the destination! Happy Baking.

  11. Ever since following your site and baking challenges I’ve learned how much baking has brought light to my life. It’s taught me patience and gained my confidence both in the kitchen and within myself. I’ve challenged myself with some of your recipes that I thought were impossible but were in the end achievable. It’s an escape from stressful anxiety filled days from work and brings me inner peace in myself and I create wonders that have tasted amazing. Thank you Sally, thank you for everything ❤️

    1. Rebecca , your description about what baking means to you is so similar to mine ! Thanks for writing the post , now I can just go BAKE something ☺️

    2. Isn’t it wonderful that the act of baking can bring so much calm and happiness? Thank you so much for sharing– and for participating in the monthly baking challenges!

  12. My Master’s degree is in occupational therapy, and the biggest take-away I learned during those two grueling years was that the way we occupy our time can have a very healing, therapeutic effect. Since discovering your blog, baking has become a new hobby, and I know it is time well spent. It is just as much about the process as it is about the outcome. The means to the end is where we find meaning, purpose, and worth. And then the end is the icing on the cake, so to speak, or pure enjoyment for ourselves and the ones we serve. So baking is a task that gives a really sweet, tangible reward for the effort involved in the “doing.” But the intangibles (care, value, and love for others) that are measured, stirred, and baked in the process are just as important as the end product. Thank you, Sally, for giving us all of the step-by-steps so that we can all “do” this thing called baking.

      1. Oh woops! I guess my “here I am raising my hand” emoji turned into a female symbol haha

  13. Thank you for this post, Sally! It is really interesting to think what baking gives us
    Baking gives me the same calm and joy as you described. But I found out that it is just a way to express my creativity. I always loved beautiful and colourful desserts and cakes, I admire such creations like pieces of art. The fact that I am capable to create such, makes me incredibly proud. Therefore photographing the baked goods is a natural sequence of my baking process. I find purpose and fulfilment especially when developing new recipes and I feel incredible happiness when someone makes one of them!

    1. It’s so special to find a hobby that truly gives a sense of pride. Thank you so much for adding to the post!

  14. I too suffer from anxiety and baking calms
    me. I have been baking for years but more intently in the last couple. The last 6 months or so have been some of the toughest in my life. The week before last Christmas, my job that I loved and was very good at suddenly ended as my company unexpectedly closed down. While I had a job for about 3 more weeks to help manage the shut down, things were rough and I faced a very uncertain future. As I’m the sole breadwinner for my husband and I (due to his medical issues), it was some of the most stress I’d ever faced. I immediately fell into a fairly deep depression and really struggled with everything. I swallowed my pride and approached a prior employer and asked for my job back. This job was in an area that I am good at but bores me and the position doesn’t challenge me at all. Once I got the new job (at a lot less pay and at a lot lower level), I struggled to get out of the funk I had been in. After reading about someone taking a baking class, I decided to try one. I took a class at my community college about cake decorating. I almost immediately fell in love with baking again. I’ve now taken more cake decorating classes and cookie decorating classes and am loving it. I’ve now taken on a couple small pay gigs and enjoy baking for family and friends even more. So baking, for me, is my lifeline. It allows me to express my creativity and challenge myself to learn new things. I can stay in a job that I don’t love but pays the bills and bake on the side to bring joy and purpose to my life.

    1. This is so beautiful, Marcy, thank you so much for sharing! I hope others read it and find inspiration from it too. Baking is healing! What a way to find joy when aspects and instances in our life are totally uncontrollable.

  15. I enjoy the process of baking. It is very relaxing for me and my neighbors are always up for baked goods. My next-door neighbor calls me the Dessert Fairy!

  16. Oh Sally, I just love this!! Baking is a special thing for me too. I love being able to take very simple ingredients and create lots of different treats. I too find it very therapeutic. Since becoming a mom (almost 8 years ago now), I have been much more worried and anxious and baking brings me so much joy and calmness. Not to mention I love bringing a smile to peoples faces when they eat my creations. . Thank you for always being so open and real!

  17. I have been baking since I was a child. I baked with my grandmother, my mother’s mom, that lived with us. The kitchen is where I feel most comfortable. It is where I show my creativity as well as the place where I go when I need to relax. There is nothing like baking bread or making cookies to take my mind off of the stress of daily life. There I can focus on making something that will be enjoyed by my family and friends. I just love to bake, plain and simple. Right now I have cookies in the fridge waiting to be baked in the morning. Yesterday I baked some Kindred’s milk bread to have with dinner. I look forward to baking more this week. It can get expensive. Butter and other ingredients are not cheap! I love trying new recipes and this Sally’s Baking Addiction site, is a source for many of them.

  18. This feels like a loaded question. Baking means joy. It gives me pure, pure joy. I also have anxiety and baking calms me, it makes me feel in control and distracts me from unhelpful thoughts. Baking means presenting a beautiful treat to family and friends, as someone who hates attention I secretly love just how much “attention” a beautiful baked good gets.

  19. I have loved baking ever since I was nine and tried my first recipe…and that recipe I have adapted and changed since and it is definitely my most-baked (and most loved!) recipe in my repertoire today.
    I bake because it brings joy and happiness to others. I love baking for others and hearing the sighs of satisfaction as they bite down into a delicious baked good. Baking for others not only brings joy to them, but to me too.
    Baking is a hobby of mine, but also somewhat therapeutic – I always wanted to do Chemistry at school but never got the chance, so the ‘sciencey’ side of baking intrigues and fascinates me and I love experimenting with new baking ideas and seeing what the result is.
    I also love knowing that I can control everything that goes into the food that I eat – it’s not processed, but it’s real and it’s made with love.

    1. It’s so awesome that you enjoy baking for the learning aspects– teaching yourself and learning what works and what doesn’t work. It’s science, for sure! Thanks so much for sharing all this, Gemma!

  20. Sally, this is so lovely! It’s so nice to be encouraged to reflect on why we like to bake, and what motivates us to do it. For me, it’s about a few things. First of all, I’ve been baking since I was a toddler, helping my grandma make cakes and scones and cookies along with my siblings. Those memoried have always been special to me, and that was one of the reasons I begun to get especially interested in baking a few years ago. Also, I agree with you that baking is therapeutic. I always feel calm and happy when I’m in the kitchen. And I love how creative I can be with baking! Experimenting with recipes is something I really love to do, and your blog feeds my creativity with lots of inspiration, so thank you so much for that, Sally! And also, I really love baking for other people. Baking for myself is fun, sure, but nothing gives me more joy than giving my friends and family a homemade baked good that they will enjoy. It’s amazing how much you can touch people just by giving them a batch of cookies or cupcakes on their birthday or when they’ve had a new baby, or for any special event that you want to celebrate with them for! Sally, you and your beautiful blog have inspired me so much that I’m hoping to have a blog of my own someday, and I hope it could be even half as wonderful as yours is! Now, my dream job is to own a small bakery/café of my own, and with all that I’ve learnt from your blog, I’m eager to attempt this project someday! So again, thank you, Sally, for motivating me and so many others as well to get into the kitchen and take on a challenge, make something new, and most of all, have fun while doing it! 🙂

    1. YOU ARE WELCOME!! And thank YOU for following along, trusting my recipes, and adding to this conversation. Baking is so meaningful for so many different reasons. You are truly spreading joy and it’s so wonderful that you want to someday make a career or side project out of it. Inspiring to many!

  21. Hello Sally! To answer your question, what does baking mean to me? First reason has to be it started with me having a sweet tooth – like i literally can’t remember a day i don’t have dessert. Until one day, i decided that maybe it’s about time i bake my own dessert so i will have endless of it : ) My second reason is huge for me. I have been suffering from severe migraine my whole life and my neurologist suggested that i find time to relax since it is suspected to be caused by stress by 80%. Miraculously, since i started buying my first oven, the severity of my migraine attacks has dramatically changed! I attributed that to my baking because i really feel so happy and relaxed when i’m baking. So let me take this opportunity to thank you sincerely because 90% of my baking goods are from your website!

    1. Thanks for sharing AND for baking my recipes! There is something so calming about meticulously following a structured recipe. No need to think about anything else, just the task at hand.

  22. What baking means to me is a reflection of my love. No matter what kind of day I have when I come home and bake something it’s a reflection of my love. I put my heart ❤️ into it knowing it’s for those I love and care about. And maybe it might make someone’s day. It could brighten someone’s day. And when someone says thanks for baking for us that’s what it’s all about. So thanks Sally for the great recipes I’m able to bake and share with everyone!!! ❤️

  23. Baking brings me joy knowing I can do something that soothes me and for the most part is one of the few things I can do right!!!! Plus it’s nice after or before my job!!!!

  24. Baking is one of the biggest Joys I have in my day ! I don’t have memories of baking with a Grandmother or Mom as my mother did not cook or bake and I learned to appreciate cooking and baking in School. I still have my notebook with all the recipes we made in 7th Grade and I am 66 yrs old. Baking is therapy to me and my mindfulness time. When I am overwhelmed with emotion or stress of dealing with illness, Baking is Medicinal because you can’t think of anything else but ingredients and creating. I don’t eat what I bake . My Joy is bringing it others, be that our Doctor or pharmacist, friends and work mates at my husband’s job. Thank you for all the inspiration you give so many of us and the wonderful recipes and baking tips you share with us . I look forward to opening every email that you send .

    1. Thank you so much for sharing Susan. I love everything you wrote. There is something so calming about following a structured recipe. No need to think about anything else, just the task at hand. And it brings joy to others!

  25. I love being in my kitchen with a classical radio station on putting together ingredients that when baked taste amazing. It is a pleasure to share amazing food. I travel to Malaysia and bring tastes from there that no one who I work with woukd ever get to enjoy. It i-s a joy and pleasure.

  26. Lovely post idea Sally. Baking is my form of relaxation. (Unless baking with my toddler, then not so much ) But I love the calm of baking and of course the (usually) yummy end result. I love being able to share the baked goods with family and friends too. I’ve been baking since I was a small child and have always found my rest in it.

  27. I have always loved baking because of the wonderful connection it gives me to the past. From the time I was very young, my grandmother ( who has since passed) and I would have so much fun baking together. The most memorable times were the things that didn’t come out so good because she and I would just laugh and try again! She never minded the mess even if I had flour everywhere! Every time I bake I think of those memories. I also love the joy it brings to the recipients of my baking now. I often bring homemade goodies to work. No matter how busy a day it is, cookies and cupcakes make everyone smile which me brings me so much happiness! I can’t imagine my life without my baking! Thanks Sally for helping to make it even more fun! You are a special person! Your recipes and stories have helped to add to my good times.

    1. Everything you wrote is so familiar! How incredible that most of us can find invaluable joy in a hobby while remembering loved ones during the process. Thank you so much for sharing!

  28. Baking brings me peace. As a mom of a 13 month old, I don’t get a lot of me time or even alone time. I bake every weekend to get some time to myself. It makes happy to create something delicious and to be able to share it with family and friends.

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