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

346 Comments

  1. My mommy has been my Baking Queen ever since I can remember licking the beaters from her chocolate chip cookie dough! I would stand by her on a chair at our tiny counter and make my own shopping list out of scribbles. Today I have three small children and if I ever want to make a baked item, 9 times out of 10 it has come from either my Mommy’s recipe box or else Sally’s here! She found your site first and recommended it to me. So to me, baking is an expression of love and appreciation to my family and friends. I love the “first bite yum factor” and the “wow can I have more” afterwards! Sure I have made mistakes in my recipes and that hurts but it helps me learn now to plan extra time into everything not just baking and to read the instructions thoroughly not just the ingredient list! I am not an artsy person but I enjoy designing on the computer second only to designing food!

    1. I loved reading this, Sarah Jean! What an incredible collection of recipes you must have 🙂 What a sweet way to spread love to your family and friends. Thanks for adding to this conversation!

  2. Thanks for sharing Sally.
    I grew up in a house where little to no baking happened, and my grandparents lived in another country, so I couldn’t even enjoy Grandma’s cookies! For me, baking has become something that marks me as a mum. I think that at first at least, we all feel inadequate for the jobs that we do – whether that be an occupation, a position, a title or a mother. Fake it till you make it! Well, when I bake, I feel like a real mum! A bit silly I know, but we all have our quirky thoughts. Thank you Sally for making baking so accessible and successful for me ❤️

    1. I LOVE this! What sweet traditions you are making for your family! xo

  3. I think of the kitchen as my sanctuary. Alone with my thoughts, good or bad, and only the sounds of the utensils. Trying new recipes , or making the good old standbys. No one can understand how much joy this brings to me, only someone who shares the same feelings. Seeing the joy a batch of my chocolate chip cookies brings to the faces of my children, grandchildren, neighbors is all I need to make me want to whip up some more.

    1. I agree 100%, Helen. I cherish my time in the kitchen and there is something so magical about sharing baked goods with others. Thanks for participating in this conversation 🙂

  4. Baking to me I think is also my way of spreading joy. I love making tasty things and then sharing it. In a lot of cases a dessert might make someone’s day or at the very least brighten it and that is my very favourite!

    1. I agree! I love brightening someone’s day with even just a simple batch of cookies 🙂 What a gift it is to share your love of baking with others!

  5. Baking reminds me of the day when I first watched my father baked me a scrumptious butter cake on my birthday. It also brings back memories of the days on my brothers successful attempts to bake cake for Mother’s Day and ending with a mess that he escapes from cleaning. Watching the movement of the batter in the mixer, using my hands to knead the dough and etc brings quiets my mind. The precision that it requires in baking allows a sense of security that it is going to be okay. When baking, I feel a sense of calmness and warmth. It is my Zen Place.

    1. I’ve long wondered why I am okay with cooking but I truly love baking. I mean, what’s the difference? I think the difference lies in two things for me : one, the precision. There’s no guesswork in baking, at least for those of us following recipes! Everything has to be measured and added in precise order. And I can trust that, unless I fouled up a step, it’ll turn out right. (Not always something I can trust in cooking!) And two : the enjoyment factor. I don’t think my family has ever disliked something I’ve baked! I just love seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces as they enjoy a muffin, a cupcake, a cookie, or a warm slice of bread. It’s something that can benefit folks outside my family too, and I love sharing loaves of bread with friends or muffins with kids at my daughter’s bus stop. It’s such a fun way to love others.

      1. I agree, Nicole! It’s nice to have such exact measurements in baking- I find when life feels a bit out of control, baking always centers me- I know I can follow a recipe and (hopefully!) end up with a perfect end result. Thanks for sharing!

    2. What sweet memories! Thanks for adding to this conversation, Loshinee 🙂

  6. The only reason I bake is for my two grandchildren who are now teenagers. I have to say the bulk of the recipes are from your site. For me, they are easy to follow and foolproof. So Sally, thank you for making this grandmother score points.

    1. So sweet, Ann! Thank you for baking and trusting my recipes 🙂

  7. Cortney Capasso says:

    Baking gives me a sense of pride. Pride that you created something, and pride because it is something others truly enjoy and are amazed with. Baking acts as a form of therapy at moments… forcing you you to pay attention to details, thus getting your mind of anything that may be bothering you. But mostly baking amazes me in the sense that you take all these basic and wonderful ingredients and watch as they turn into something so magnificent just by following a few simple steps. It creates a feeling of accomplishment and wonder.

    1. I loved reading this and relate to so much of what you shared. Baking is truly a magical process!

  8. Patti Earll says:

    Baking gives me joy and the satisfaction of turning a recipe into a work of art. This joy is more profound when friends and family say you are “the baker of our family, and very good!” It is the only outlet for me, to relax, let go, create, and make the same recipe better each time I do it. The end result, a desire to try a more challenging recipe, and feel the confidence it will taste and look spectacular when done.

    1. Love this, Patti! What a joy it is to continually build confidence in the kitchen by trying new things and honing our skills 🙂

  9. Christine Myhre says:

    Years ago, baking became a means to an end. I knew I could bake delicious cookies and quick bremad and I had made the occasional pie for my family. Circumstances came up in my life that required me to be a single parent. That in itself is a daunting task, but I was also going to college full time and working part time. I needed to earn extra money without spending more time away from my 4 children. So, I asked my parents, who owned a farm and greenhouses, if I could sell baked goods out of their roadside stand. They permitted it and my passion for baking flowered out of a need to protect my children. 25 years later, I am now a registered cottage food producer, and sell my treats at local farmers markets. My passion brings joy to others and I love it!

    1. What an amazing story, Christine! Congratulations on your success! Thank you for sharing and adding to this conversation 🙂

      1. Christine Myhre says:

        Thank you Sally! It has been quite the journey.

  10. It’s a way to express love to my family and friends

    1. Love this, Mary!

  11. Finding in my own way, baking is therapeutic.. I get such pleasure in baking, and giving the goods to friends and neighbors. Whether it’s making cookies, cakes or baking cinnamon buns, I love the beginning and finished product, always figuring out how to tweak recipes. When the kids come home for a visit, they can always count on a treat from the kitchen!

    1. So sweet! I am already looking forward to the day my daughter has a few favorites from my kitchen 😉

  12. I have always enjoyed baking for my family. My mother worked in the school lunchroom and was a roll maker so I guess my interest in baking started from her influence. I’ve found that baking gives me opportunities to do creative things with my grandchildren. One day recently I was baking cupcakes with my 6 year old granddaughter and I suggested we share our goods with my aunt. She said, “Let’s have a cupcake fun run!” We did just that. We loaded a tray with a variety of cupcakes, jumped in the car and headed to the homes of several neighbors, unannounced, and let them choose their cupcakes. We even shared with the garbage pick-up guys who happened to be taking their break. It is one of many wonderful memories that were created as a result of baking.

    1. I love this so much! Truly spreading joy one day at a time 🙂 Thank you for adding to this conversation, Joan!

  13. Thank you for sharing, Sally!
    For me, baking (and cooking as well) is a way to step back from all the stress, appointments, deadlines and endless to-do-lists that seem to overwhelm me at times.
    Baking is an ancient technique, doing something humanity has done for centuries makes me feel connected to all the women (and a few men – hello dad!) in my family that were bakers. Baking never was a “hobby” for my grandmother or great-grandmother, it was simply a daily practise and I like that approach. It’s unfuzzy yet comforting and generous.
    Also, making something that friends with special deitary needs can eat is especially dear to my heart, I know they often have a hard time finding something they can enjoy at social gatherings and I like for them to feel included. I can show that to them without words through a baked good and I love that.

    1. I agree! Time in the kitchen is such an escape for me 🙂 So thoughtful of you to be so considerate of your friends. Spreading sweetness one day at a time!

  14. Joan Prochoroff says:

    I’ve always loved being in the kitchen! From the time I was small watching my Mom and Dad baking Russian/Ukrainian breads, cakes and other traditional foods, I was always right there watching and helping. ( I was the head taste tester and batter licker!) For me, baking is pure love. It is the vehicle by which I can express my love for my family in a concrete,(and sweet and delicious) form. It also gives me a sense of accomplishment and pride when I’ve baked something yummy from scratch. I’ve always thought that owning a bakery must be wonderful because who can be unhappy when you are baking cakes and cookies all day? Reading what you said about the control factor in baking, Sally, also rings true for me…I never thought about it before, but I do believe that baking also provides me with me a sense of control and calm in a world that has precious little of that.

    1. I relate to so much of this! Thrilled baking holds a special place in your heart, too 🙂

  15. Vicki Skonieczny says:

    It’s fun and it makes me happy!

    1. YAY! 🙂

  16. Susan Weiss says:

    It gives me the chance to bring back my grandmother, my first teacher, and allow me to create something to be shared.
    I have her Joy of cooking and my own copy a Christmas gift when I graduated high school..
    I’m self taught at stamped and counted cross stitch, “I think you can do that” challenge from mom, along with baking. My work schedule has not allowed as much time as I want but I find the time.
    Sally, you break it down into small steps, like my grandma, and make the impossible possible.
    For that, thank you.

    1. Oh Susan, I absolutely loved reading this. What a wonderful way to keep memories of your grandmother alive. Baking does the same for me, too. Thank you for baking and trusting my recipes 🙂

  17. Wendy Warren says:

    Coming from a Jewish upbringing, feeding others – especially baked goods – has always been an expression of love. But for me specifically, baking and chocolate making serves a dual purpose – it’s a creative outlet for me (I love to create art in any form), and it brings be tremendous happiness to feed others. What started out as fun is now a sideline business for me and I have my commercial wholesale license, working out of a shared kitchen. My only issue with it is that I get bored creating the same items all the time, and I look for opportunities to step outside the box at local markets. Sometimes I’ll offer an assortment of bars/brownies/cookies and sometimes I’ll go on a booze cake kick. Whatever I offer, the greatest joy is when people sample the offerings and love them (and hopefully buy some too). And of course friends and family LOVE when I recipe test, and I love feeding them. Food is love.

    1. Congratulations on your baking success! It IS so much fun to step outside of the baking box 🙂 Thanks for adding to this conversation!

  18. I love to eat, and have a sweet tooth, but I want to know what goes into the sweets I eat. Baking is therapeutic, it is an expression of love, it hits many of the pleasure senses of good smells, and tastes. It is a way of celebrating special occasions, and giving from the heart. It is not just for happy occasions, but also for loss. Baking is an expression of love and comfort for the gamut of emotions people experience, with a heartwarming result of appreciation. I love baking for others, but also love baking for myself. I am not creative, or a fancy cake decorator, and admire those people, but my desserts and baked goods have a wonderful, rustic appeal. Thank you for your continued inspiration and support to my baking.

    1. I relate to all of what you shared, Karen! Thank you for contributing to today’s conversation, and for baking my recipes 🙂

  19. Kathleen Armstrong says:

    I grew up with a mother who bake and still bakes at 94. She is my role model for sure. I love baking and cooking. I love the creative side to baking, but I also love the challenge of it. My passion is baking with yeast, and I love baking coffee cakes and sweet rolls, many of which are treats at my monthly English department meetings. Of course cookies for my grandchildren and desserts for special occasions are part of the fun. It brings me calm and joy. I can spend the whole day in the kitchen and love every minute of it, including the dishes.

    1. What fortunate coworkers you have 🙂 It truly is a joy to share what we make with others!

  20. Amy Kolesnik says:

    My mom had me baking with her at a young age. I started out on “sprinkle duty” and by watching my mom bake, I started to learn the ins and outs, and tips and tricks that she uses and learned from her mom. My mom has always been a good baker, and I’m so glad she passed down the “baking genes” to me! 🙂
    Baking is a way for me to relieve my stress from work and life, and I love the feeling of giving someone something homemade. My family and fiance (and me!) all have a sweet tooth so we enjoy trying all of the different cookies, cakes, and pies that I make or my mom makes!

    1. I agree with all of this, Amy! My daughter is fascinated with the mixer and I can’t wait to actively bake with her someday 🙂 What wonderful memories you are creating for your family!

  21. Baking puts me in a place where the voices in my heads are finally quite, the what it’s, you should have, the if this happens then this. Unfortunately I suffer from depression and anxiety. But in the kitchen when the ovens on, the whirling sounds of mixer or bread machine going, thinking of what filling to try maybe if I had this or a bit of that dividing the batter’s and doughs to stretch my time there before reality sets back in. This is why I bake afterwards there are mounds of sweet experiments to try and share. For the days when it’s too much I am thankful for this blog then I am able to lift my blues through you current and past post.

    1. Baking truly is a form of therapy, I believe! Thank you so much for sharing your story and adding to today’s conversation 🙂 xo

  22. Everybody has to eat to stay alive. I always got a lot of satisfaction from providing freshly made, wholesome meals for the family. But, with baking, its a little different. You get to put together a totally indulgent “goodie”-a treat! Some would argue, but you don’t need cake to survive! It’s very gratifying! I always had a sweet treat around when my two boys were little, and then, when my grandchildren were here. Once they all grew up and out, I opened my own cupcake business so I would still have someone to bake for! Obviously, baking fills a basic need in me to treat people with something sweet!

    1. I love this! The power of sharing a homemade treat with someone is truly special! Thanks for contributing to this conversation, Liz 🙂

  23. I’ve always baked. But somehow I really got into it when I became a stay at home mother. It was then that I taught myself how to make tiered and themed cakes. I now have quite the portfolio! Baked goods and pastries is an art to me. I get excited about the end result that is beautiful and delicious, whether it be the simple but GOOD chocolate chip cookies I have made a zillion times or the intricate communion cake with fondant and royal icing lace. Bringing out a spread of desserts at a get together or party is my favorite part of the day; and yes I have to admit that I do get a good feeling out of impressing people.

    1. Love this, Michelle!

  24. I was told by a neighbor that my grandmother used to bake lovely goodies I never knew her. I was born Christmas Eve. That’s the time for baked good. Once I was able to read instructions I started to bake . It’s just a good feeling.

    1. So sweet, Carol!

  25. Baking is therapeutic; is an expression of love and gratitude for all the food to be transformed and fed for the ones I love! Thanks, Sally for your lessons and all the goods recipes you shared.

    1. It really is therapeutic! Thank you for baking and trusting my recipes, Sarah 🙂

  26. Lia Allison says:

    I first started baking at a very young age, with my mother. Being one of six siblings, homemade goods was her way of getting more for your buck. Not to mention it tastes so much better than store bought. I started being the kneader to warm up the Kolachi dough at Christmas time. Then just progressed from there. Cookies, pies, cakes oh my.
    I too love baking as my outlet for calm. Love when you can share all the baked goodness with family, friends and strangers (sending baked goods to my families’ work). I baked cookies as a way to make extra money during the holidays when my children were little. And I was excited when I started to work in a friend’s coffee shop and do the planning and baking for all of his baking needs.
    More sharing of the deliciousness.
    I like the challenge of new ideas, I’ve even dabbled in a few small wedding cakes. I love that there’s a whole world of other bakers out there to learn and share new tips and tricks from! Thanks and keep on baking!

    1. Loved reading this, Lia! Such sweet memories really are made in the kitchen 🙂 I appreciate you participating in today’s conversation!

  27. Leslie Kiszka says:

    I’m the same as you – I started baking to manage my anxiety and the large amount of stress that was in my life (hence the blog, Stress Baking!). Now I use it for the same purpose, but also to spread the delicious joy with others.

    1. Love it! Time in the kitchen is truly special, isn’t it?!

  28. Baking is my fave hobby and for sure a stress relief outlet. Sometimes I want everyone else out of the kitchen so it can be “me time.” Usually I welcome the kids pulling chairs to the counter, asking to crack the eggs and help dump/mix—then it’s bonding time. And of course it’s always “make something delicious” time. I get kind of antsy if there isn’t some kind of homemade dessert available in my house! (I grew up with brownies or cookies constantly available; always from a box then, but still.)
    I love the feeling of competence when a new recipe comes out right the first time; when people ask with wide eyes, “you *made* these?”; and when both my sisters asked me to bake something for their weddings last summer.

    1. 100% relate to all of this! What sweet memories you are creating with your family! xo

  29. Lorraine Fina Stevenski says:

    Dad baked Jiffy corn muffins, Mom made Duncan Hines. Growing up in an Italian family we cooked memorable meals we would all share. Living in New York we had bakeries everywhere. A sweet desire was fulfilled by just driving around the corner. Here in Florida, we don’t have small bakery shops. I taught myself to bake all those confections I missed. The joy of baking was realized in my recipes and time I spent in the kitchen creating those recipes. What’s thrilling to me is a counter full of ingredients, a recipe idea to write and a place to call my own. I entered recipe contests and became addicted the joy of winning and competing with my recipes. I have been in competitions around the country with my WINNING RECIPES. The thought of winning the big prize is always on my mind. I started with muffins, then coffee cakes, then bundt cakes and layer cakes with interesting flavors and toppings. I now write for the Tampa Bay Times and my recipes are shared with readers who have the same baking passion as I do. I am the family designated baker, the memory maker of all things sweet and I am honored to be asked to bring my special super duper creations to family gatherings. Let the flour fly!

    1. What an incredible journey, Lorraine! Thanks for adding to today’s conversation 🙂

  30. Baking is a venue for sharing love in form of sweetness. Baking is a path to self-improvement as you can (if you want) set more challenging goals, try new things you’ve never attempted before, and turn it into a very rewarding experience. It can give you more self-confidence that spills in other areas of life.

    Baking teaches you to be more patient as time is a very important “ingredient” in all recipes – once you start rushing, things can get really ugly really fast. I am a very impatient person by nature, and baking makes me more aware of this issue.

    1. I agree! Baking is incredibly rewarding and we can learn so many incredible life lessons in the kitchen 🙂 Thanks for adding to this conversation!

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