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. Baking is my stress reliever. I feel the same as you, and when I’m super stressed, I bake bread (mostly) and then give it away! I love sharing my love of freshly baked bread. 🙂

  2. Baking for me is a lot of things. It’s creative. I can’t draw or write music or play an instrument but I can bake beautiful things. It’s also an anxiety reducer for me too. If I’m stressed or upset the routine of baking helps. It’s precise and I have to focus which calms my mind. Finally, it’s a way I show affection. I’m not a touchy feely person with the majority of my relationships but if I bake for you, I like you.

    Also I love sugar.

  3. Baking to me is the preciseness of following instructions and have something come out of the oven that taste as wonderful, if not better than I hoped.Then sharing it with the people around me. While I didn’t grow up baking, I think that is a reason I started. To make up for lost time for all the homemade cookies I didn’t get to bake/eat as I kid. It takes me longer than average to bake but that never stops me, I would rather make sure everything is ready than rush the process. Plus knowing for me that I can put a few simple ingredients together in different ways and have something to show for it in the end, makes me so happy. I am glad that baking brings you so much calmness and joy, I love that you share your anxiety medicine recipes with us 🙂 Yours is a voice that feels like an old friend sharing what helps keep you centered. Plus the fact that it still calms you after all these years, the baking part of your job must hardly ever feel like work. Well most of the time.

    1. Love this, Courtney! It really is amazing how a few simple ingredients turn into something magical! Thanks for adding to the conversation 🙂

  4. Sally,
    I read your words and could totally identify. The only difference is that you took a huge leap of faith and were able to make your passion your profession. I had lots of exposure to professional bakers as a young teen…my parents owned a” summer only” bakery on the Cape when I was a very young teen. I also worked in a small local bakery when working my way through college. I learned lots of tips but really didn’t have an interest in baking myself until I purchased my first condo.
    I find that it is a fun, relaxing , creative outlet and I also find myself gravitating to the kitchen when I feel stressed and just want to get out of my own head. I mostly give everything I make away to neighbors and friends and use them as my baking critiques when I try a new recipe. Finally, I have learned I have a serious addiction to sprinkles so baking on a regular basis is a must!

  5. Baking is MAGIC! You have a bunch of ordinary ingredients & through the magical transformation of baking you have made something special. It is one of the few areas of life that you can set a goal & finish it. You get tangible rewards for your efforts & if you fail you still learned a valuable lesson (or two or three). My hours in the kitchen bring me joy, peace and of course fabulousness. With Sally’s Baking Addiction I also feel part of a community and chain since the dawn of time we have been started out with raw ingredients and through the alchemy of baking made something valuable. Thanks for the years of fun & joy through this site – I appreciate them more than I can say here.

    1. Baking is magical indeed! Thank you so much for your loyal readership over these years- I appreciate you baking and trusting my recipes more than you know 🙂 Thanks for adding to the conversation, Cristina!

  6. I love to bake and am very grateful for ALL the bakers who wrote down recipes for others to try, thereby keeping alive a most wonderful life skill!
    Baking is about making something good to eat to share with others or sometimes just for oneself. That alone is enough to keep me happily busy in the kitchen!

    1. Baking in my kitchen has always been my refuge and ‘happy place’ over the years. A stress-filled week? Whip up some cookies or brownies. Disappointing day? Turn on the oven and turn out a cake. My greatest reward, though, has been bonding over baking with my third daughter — usually involving a Sally’s recipe — even though we live several states apart. A week doesn’t go by that we don’t compare/share what we are baking or decorating long distance via FaceTime or Snapchat. I love that your website has created a platform for us to continue to grow closer as mom and daughter …. not to mention the tasty benefits for all of our friends and family!

      1. This is so sweet, Sherri! I’m thrilled that you and your daughter have connected over so many of my recipes 🙂 Absolutely love reading this!

  7. To me baking is my hobby, i derive a lot of pleasure baking, more so there is a sense of fulfillment that comes when my friend and family enjoy what i bake.

  8. Just thought you my like this short blip. Years ago when I was taking art classes’ in college the instructor asked the class what we considered “art”. There were all kinds of answers. Weaving, sewing, wood working, making blue prints, and even crafters’, and knitters were named. When everyone had run out of ideas he told us he we missed what everyone did. The teacher ( artist himself) asked what about cooks and bakers? Did they not have talents, abilities, and skills? All of which are put in their works only to be consumed. He said they were labors of love and sadly under valued. So the next time you create an outstanding meal, dessert, or appetizer step back and admire your work. Enjoy the pleasure that “creating” this gave you. I know it does for me!

    1. Such a wonderful reminder, Barbara! Bakers and chefs ARE artists! Thank you so much for adding to the conversation 🙂

  9. Baking is how I connect and show love and gratitude. Growing up all the adults in my family cooked and baked, and every time I do the same, I think of them. As a teacher, I bring in baked goods as often as I can to show my love and gratitude for my coworkers and students. Seeing the smile on someone’s face when they bite into something I made bring happiness to us both!

  10. Hi. Baking and cooking were in my blood since the day one of my life. Baking is happiness and joy to my soul and everybody around me. Baking is my life,my hobbie , my favorite thing in the world, everybody who loves to bake can only understand that feeling. life is crazzy, i have two kids (15 and 19 ) that hate cakes and do not have a sweet tooth ,so , i bake for the neighborhood and friends .

  11. My father worked as a Baker, so I grew up with baked goods every day! That’s where my sweet tooth and love for baking began! Baking relaxes me and brings me joy! I love baking for family and friends and enjoy your wonderful recipes!

  12. Baking is my stress reliever and anxiety reducer. I also love that it makes people happy. I love the science of baking and how much a recipe can be significantly changed when you alter ingredients. I also love how precise baking is.

  13. Beautifully said, Sally! Like you, I am also an adversary to anxiety. In high school, I was hit hard with a lot of confusing and overwhelming feelings, but baking became my anchor. When I’m making something, I’m laser focused on making that special something. For me, that feeling of producing something from start to finish and then being able to share it with others is so fulfilling and absolutely unmatched — there’s nothing else that makes me want to be on my feet, cleaning up messes, and meticulously adding garnishes like extra chocolate chips or sprinkles on top. Also like you, I currently work in a very “gray” office environment 9 – 5, five days a week. I am often dreaming up recipes at my desk and craving the opportunity to throw myself into concocting something when I’m able to go home, put on some music, and just be free. Your recipes and blog have been a huge aid in teaching myself how to be a truly *good* baker, and I can’t even fathom ever purchasing another boxed mix or pre-made dessert (unless it’s for cake batter chocolate chip cookies, of course!). I love baking and am so thankful that it’s a hobby and passion that is encouraged to be shared with others. Baking fills my heart and soul!

    1. I absolutely loved reading this, Michelle- I’m always amazed at the truly positive impact baking has for so many of us 🙂 Keep dreaming up delicious creations! Thank you so much for baking and trusting my recipes!

  14. Baking is my favorite hobby! I love it because I can get creative and try new things and it calms me, especially when things go smoothly! I love giving my baked goods to the people I love and care about, so baking is love! ❤️

  15. Hi Sally,

    This will be a long one…haha…

    My childhood memories of baking revolve around something that came from a box, a can, or a frozen package. The only time I was exposed to baking from scratch was Thanksgiving when I would make pies with my grandma. It wasn’t until I became a mother that my desire to bake (and cook) from scratch kicked in. I wanted to share something special with and for those I love most, and food became my outlet for doing so.

    Like you, baking is how I center myself in a world that can often be overwhelming. You’ll often find me listening to the likes of Michael Buble, Bing Crosby, or music from the 40’s when I bake because the music takes my baking experience to the next level! I bake for the joy it brings to my life and those around me (and it is a great way to get the kids to gather for some family time!). Life is so busy, but I know that when there is a fresh baked treat in the house, my family finds the time to settle in and pause for a bit.

    What I love most about baking is the passion it has stirred in one of our daughters. At 9 years old, our second born has proven to be a passionate baker, and she impresses us with what she has learned since venturing on her own baking journey 2 years ago. Currently she’s preparing a new baked good once a week with the goal of applying for Kids Baking Championship next year (this week she tackles French Macarons!). To see how my love of baking has inspired and impacted our daughter to find something she’s passionate about is the icing on the cake. 🙂

    Also, you, Sally, are a large part of inspiring our bakes. The first recipe I found and tried of yours was The Great Pumpkin Pie (it even convinced my beloved late grandma that it was better than her own!), and we have been loyal followers of yours ever since. The way you break down the “how” and “why” of a recipe takes your blog from just recipes to teaching a reader how to improve his or her skills; this is a main reason why our family and countless others are grateful and inspired by you. Thank you for sharing your gift with us, and for proving that ANYONE can be a baker!

    1. Absolutely love reading this, Merrily! What sweet memories you are creating with your family. Thank you for sharing so much of what baking means to you 🙂 Thank you for baking and trusting my recipes! xo

  16. My Grandmother and Mother were the best cooks and bakers so I rarely tried to do either growing up as I didn’t want to fail. While in college I found a good chocolate chip cookie was definitely needed so I started with that. Then as I started to miss other things such as cream puffs, five layer chocolate pie, rhubarb custard pie and home made flaky crust I realized I had better start to make them. My background is design and I find that creating a delicious baked good is very much like art. A good friend was going through chemo and my ginger cookies with lemon buttercream frosting were just what she craved. It was so nice to be able to brighten her day with something that tasted good to her. As I get older I find I need to concentrate just that little bit more as it is easy to miss a step or ingredient so hopefully it helps slow down my aging brain.

  17. Baking is my stress relief. When I am sad, hurt, joyful or angry I bake. Because my mixer and my oven doesn’t judge or criticize it just soothes my ruffled feathers.

  18. Being able to share my cookies and cupcakes with family. That my brother-in-laws’ fight for my cookie stash in the freezer and my kids ask me to bake for my grandchildren’s birthday’s – that is the best compliment and warm fuzzies I can get!!

  19. Baking is my hobby. Baking is also something I can do as an introvert by myself in the kitchen. Baking is my form of creativity since I can’t paint or draw. I don’t know how to do a lot of great and wonderful things, but I’m good at baking. But I think most of all, baking is the way I show love to other people. When I want to say I Love You to people in my family and outside my family, I bake. I love sharing with people. And it’s something I can do for my church, either to help raise money with bake sales or by feeding people – I know it blesses them as much as it blesses me.

    We are in the midst of moving – a move that is being forced on us by my husband’s job. I’m stressed, I’m tired, I’m emotional. But while I was deep cleaning the kitchen on Saturday, I made your angel food cake and lemon curd. I had only made scratch angel food cake once before and I wasn’t happy with it. But your recipes consistently turn out well and the cake was no exception! It made me so happy, it made my husband (for Father’s Day) happy and my kids happy. I also took part to an elderly friend and she was excited. So my tiredness and stress and emotions went away for awhile yesterday! Thank you!

    1. I relate to so much of what you shared, Joy! Moving is so hard- I am thinking of you 🙂 Thrilled the angel food cake was a hit!

  20. As I have “increased in age”, I have actually engaged in more baking/cooking…not less. The days of rushing to get a meal on the table in order to accommodate schedules of various family members are behind me, and I very much enjoy creating new menus for my husband and me. Once a month I bake for 40 people as part of a Christian outreach that ministers to the adult entertainment industry in an effort to build relationships with the workers and point them to a better way of life. My other creative outlet is quilting. I have made many quilts in the past 15 years or so…most of which I have given away. The best part of giving anything…food or fabric…is the face of the recipient when they realize someone took the time to make something special. Very few people receive anything that is homemade any more…and I am more than happy to add a little joy to their life.

    1. You are spreading so much happiness, Sharon! What fortunate recipients of your baked goods 🙂 Thanks for adding to the conversation!

  21. This post instantly made me think of the song “What Baking Can Do” from the musical Waitress.
    Baking for me is great for stress relief and for just any sort of intense emotion I’m feeling (whether that be happy, sad, mad, and so on). I love the joy it bring people when I show up somewhere with a baked good. I also love the joy I get myself when I try a new recipe or frosting technique and it’s successful. Last weekend, I made ATK recipe for Millionaire Shortbread and I don’t remember the last time I was that proud of myself. I like to pretend I’m a creative person, and baking and decorating allows that side to come out.

  22. Baking has become my part time “job” after retiring from teaching music a year ago. Growing up, I loved helping my mom bake. Eight years ago, I realized that I actually had a knack for baking, mostly cupcakes and layer cakes, and was encouraged by family and students to pursue selling my baked goods. I obtained the Cottage Baking Certification from my state to permit me to sell baked goods out of my home. Baking allows me to continue to be creative. I love baking with classical music playing in the background, and I find satisfaction in instant results, either my recipe failed or was a success, something that is not experienced in teaching.

  23. Baking, for me, is a way to release stress by creating something out of all sorts of unique ingredients that all serve different purposes. It’s a way to spend time with my 3 year old because he loves to help me. Baking for others is probably my favorite part of baking because it makes people happy!

  24. Baking is my PERSONAL JOY period. I can wrap it up on those 2 words. I can sing, get mad, talk to myself and dance during one baking marathon, but it’s my race. Call me crazy but the more I can multi task my baking the more it brings me. It truly is my Perfect Joy. Thanks Sally for sharing your love with us as well .

  25. Baking nag for me is a form of therapy, a way to relax and distress. I always say, kitchen therapy is the best therapy…cheaper too! I love baking for others and sharing my bakes. I also love trying out new recipes and trying out ways to add or improve on them. When I bake, I turn on my record player and just enter my own little musical baking world!

  26. As others have commented, baking relieves my stress. I work full time in a frustrating, stressful and stagnant environment and I am a caregiver for my 84-year old mother who is entering the severe stage of dementia. Between work, caregiving, household responsibilities, cooking, cleaning, laundry and pet patrol, I am exhausted. But, baking rejuvinates me and offers the only area of control that I have in my life. Give me butter, flour, sugars, levenings, flavorings and add ins and I am Picasso. The act of baking soothes my soul and the shared end product makes everyone else happy.

  27. My daughter, Janelle, got me “hooked” on SBA – she’s an excellent baker. I’ve told so many friends and acquaintances about your site cause I LOVE the recipes you feature. I enjoy baking, but I also have found that many of your non-baking recipes have been exactly what I was looking for (ie. soups and crispy coconut chicken, just to name a few!). Just this past weekend, my daughter (who lives in a different province) asked for my opinion on which dessert she should make to bring to a friend’s house…..of course I suggested your one bowl cake recipe – cause I wanted her to tell me how good it would be so I would know what other toppings I might consider – her tastes and mine are very similar). So, I have to say your recipes keep us connected in a way that is fun to share over the miles!

  28. Baking is many things to me. It allows me to be creative and have fun. It is a stress relieving activity. It is also one of my love languages! I love baking goodies for others to show I care for them. Plus baking brings back memories of time spent in the kitchen with my grandma. When my sons want to bake with me, I am proud to teach them and hopefully pass on a joy of baking to them!

    1. Love this! I too, have such happy memories of time in the kitchen with my grandma. Thanks for adding to the conversation, Courtney 🙂

  29. Baking brings me peace and a way to share with everyone or anyone. Baking bring me joy knowing that someone enjoys eating what I made. I like hearing what people say about what I bake. I would like to thank the ones who share such wonderful recipes that I try that brings joy to my family and friends

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