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 something I have always loved to do ever since I was a little girl back in the 60’s and my grandmother got me my Easy Bake Oven. I made all my own little cakes and cookies and brownies for my grandfather when he would come home from work, I was so proud of my creations! My grandmother and I spent a lot of time together and baking and cooking was the best, I learned so much from her. Now when I bake it is therapeutic because i love doing it. I always give food gifts to people and they love it, unfortunately, I love it too which isn’t always good for the waistline! But it is my true joy when I do it on my time, when i used to bake cakes for others i felt stressed wondering if everything would be okay. When I bake when I want to and for the family, it is a win win! 🙂

      1. Thank you Sally! I know baking is very therapeutic for people like us! Thank you for sharing all your wonderful info with others 🙂

  2. After my husband’s Feb. back surgery and subsequent bout(s) of (in order) sciatic nerve pain, bursitis, and (this is new) neuropathy I found that I needed something to keep me sane. After looking and drooling at Sally’s website I found recipes to do just that. Sally, I can’t thank you enough for all of your ‘help’. Oh yeah, my husband also thanks you – the recipes I chose have all been winners with him.

    1. So sweet, Jill! I’m thrilled my recipes have brought you and your husband joy this year 🙂 Thank you for adding to the conversation!

  3. I swear you were in my brain and wrote everything I was planning to write.
    Baking is my passion but it’s also something that helps to keep me grounded (along with yoga and reading!) When I feel like my anxiety is going crazy.
    Baking helps me express myself and I love being able to provide people my baked goods and see there joy when they receive them.
    It’s a double win in my book.

  4. Baking is a time to relax and unwind from hectic school life. It’s also a way I can provide a little bit of love to people who are struggles.

  5. I love this topic, Sally!

    What baking means to me is twofold. One is the sheer satisfaction of taking raw ingredients and making something edible and delicious from them.

    But more importantly is that being able to bake means I have adequate food for my family. Baking things from scratch is a luxury.

    I grew up in a large, poor family, and there was never enough food. I was chronically hungry. My mother didn’t cook or bake, at all, except for maybe a boxed cake mix on birthdays. My dad was very skilled at cooking, but worked long hours, 6-7 days a week to support his family, and so cooking for him was usually only what he could afford to make and had time to make, meaning normally the cheapest canned and boxed foods he could find.

    On special occasions, and the very occasional Sunday, when money was less tight, he would cook a delicious dinner from scratch, like his amazing rigatoni with homemade sauce, meatballs, sausages, and neckbones, that took hours to cook.

    But we never had desserts from scratch, ever. Desserts were packaged snack cakes or cookies.

    I unfortunately also went through a 6 year period as an adult, where either my husband or I were laid off from work, and we struggled to afford enough food for our kids, and had to often choose between food and paying rent. We had to rely on food from a local hunger center for food at once point.

    Now that we’re both stably employed, it gives me great joy to have the money to be able to cook and bake from scratch for my family, and to bake special treats from scratch for my coworkers as well.

    Your blog is my favorite of all the cooking blogs I follow, Sally, and the first one I go to for desserts. I appreciate your friendly, encouraging writing, your willingness to answer questions from readers, your taking the time to explain the science behind your recipes, and especially that you write about and show your cooking and baking mistakes – it helps me see that not everyone is perfect, even professionals, and that it’s ok to make mistakes and try again.

    You are the best, Sally!

    1. Hi Laura! I absolutely loved reading about what baking means to you- thank you for taking the time to share your story. I’m thrilled you find such great joy in baking and can share the fruits of your labor with your family 🙂 Thank you for your readership and for baking my recipes!

  6. Baking is a God-given gift. It’s endlessly creative, it brings people together, it gives you something fun to do, to eat, and to share. It can be a challenge to make time for it–and always worth it. It may show a kid or your spouse a little piece of your care for them, in the shape of a banana chocolate chip snack cake, or the smell of bread, or the taste of a cookie. It’s a way to serve, a way to do something active, a way to say thanks. Not sure that we’ll know on this side of heaven what baking really is and what it really does; someday, we will. And I think we won’t be too surprised. 🙂

  7. I’ve been baking since I was 8 years old and got the Betty Crocker’s kids cook book, and I’ve never stopped! It’s always been a way to show my love for people,whether my parents,my husband, my kids or coworkers. When I’m in my kitchen, I’m always happy and feel my most authentic self. I bake when I’m happy , sad, frustrated or stressed! The best part is how happy it makes people and myself! I’ve never followed a blog before, but yours just spoke to me and I look forward to all your posts! Every single thing I’ve made from your recipes is amazing. I’m retired now and have the time to try so many new things…your Tiramisu is up next! Thank you Sally!

    1. I loved reading about what baking means to you, Jan! I agree, I feel my most authentic self in the kitchen 🙂 Thank you for your readership and for baking my recipes!

  8. To me, baking is a way of showing love. I am often stuck on what words to say so I use baking to say Thank You, I Love You, I’m Sorry, or You’re Awesome. It’s my stress reliever and my passion. I love nothing more than giving someone a cookie or dessert and finding out I have made their day!

    1. LOVE this, Christine! Baking really is a wonderful way to show love in many forms! Thank you for sharing what baking means to you 🙂

  9. OMG! Baking is for me the ultimate stress reliever. I helped my Grandma when I was little and have loved baking every since. My son and daughter, even my grandson, who is
    3 1/2, absolutely love baking. My son bakes every weekend and my daughter does as well. My grandson, Carson, loves to help when I’m baking. His mantra, when he stays with us, is, “Bubba, what are we baking today?” Baking for me has always been cathartic for me because I worry about pretty much everything, lol, and baking helps me stay focused and “in the zone”. Since I’ve been reading your blog, Sally, I’ve become a better baker, decorator, and risk taker. You have become my “go to person” for all things that involve baking. I truly believe I have become a better baker because of you and you have become my inspiration when I’m in the kitchen. I am the person all our friends and LOL not my friends have come to me for all their birthday/anything sweet needs. Thank you for being you and for making me realize that I can do anything in the kitchen. Although we don’t know each other (and yes, it’s weird, I’m weird, LOL), but I truly believe one day we will meet and know each other instantly. Thanks again for awakening my creativeness and for being such an awesome person.

    1. I loved reading about what baking means to you, Christine! You absolutely made me smile 🙂 I’m thrilled you enjoy my blog and so many of my recipes- the best part of my job is sharing with my readers. Thank you so much for sharing and participating in this conversation!

  10. Thank you for sharing this Sally!! Ever since i can remember I loved to be in the kitchen, iI love to cook, but baking is my passion. I love to bake and like everyone else, I love to give it away even more. I love to make people happy with just a dozen cookies or a pie or cake on their birthday when they didn’t expect it.
    But unlike most people I didn’t grow up cooking with my mother or grandmother as a role model. we were not allowed in the kitchen….we could watch from afar but that’s it. No helping, no sampling, not a peep. Seen but not heard. Not looking for sympathy,its just the way I was raised
    So when I was old enough to be in the kitchen one of my “chores” was making supper. That’s when I could experiment and bake. Lots of trial and error, but I loved doing it.
    These days I bake whenever I get a chance. It’s my way to relax and have me time and share what I make with people. I am known for my cookies, I’m always making cookies. But unlike my mother I always let my kids come in and help and sample. (even though my babies are 22 now!)
    Thank you Sally for this group and sharing recipes and stories with us. I am so honored and grateful to be a part of this family. I am accepted here, baking fails and all. xo

    1. Thank you so much for sharing what baking means to you, Karen! How wonderful to have fostered your love of baking and share it with your kids 🙂 Thank you for your readership and for baking my recipes- it’s a true joy to share them on my blog!

  11. Baking for me is a connection to the past and a way to slow down. It also brings people together when enjoying the special treats filled with love:)

  12. I bake and cook for every emotional reason or celebration for my family and extended families. The creativness that comes from my kitchen helps a bad day good and a good day better. I’ve learned their favorites and they sure come in handy. I love and enjoy what comes out of my kitchen as I love and enjoy all of my families.

    1. You’re right, baking DOES make a bad day better! I loved reading about what baking means to you 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Irene!

  13. Baking is my connection to my Mom and her baking family. My Mom baked for EVERYONE, she said it just made people happy, she taught my own daughter to bake from an early age (3). They would get up at 5am together and talk and get their hands in the dough.
    Today I bake to also make people happy, but never as an obligation. I love to make baked goods, sometimes not fancy or beautifully decorated but always delicious.
    I have my Mom’s spirit in me, as well as all of her stained recipes..I work hard at making it look like hers..took me 6 months to get the biscotti close to hers.
    Thanks for your recipes, there are a few of the blogs that I trust to provide consistent results.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing, Kelly. What a wonderful way to honor your mom- love the stained recipes 🙂 I appreciate you trusting and baking recipes from my blog!

  14. Baking is a way to express myself and not worry about the calories or sugar and just be happy being alive to enjoy something so delicious. I battled with an eating disorder for many years as well as inflammatory bowel disease. Let’s just say I wasn’t eating enough food for a long time. Now that I am recovered and in remission, I bake what I want and enjoy every morself of it knowing that it is nourishing both my body and my soul!

    1. How wonderful to be able to truly enjoy baking! Thank you so much for sharing, Joanna- I loved reading about what baking means to you 🙂

      1. Thanks for sharing an array of recipes, too!! I know you have some healthy ones as well but you also fully embrace butter and sugar for those special treats and occasions. You only live once and I guarantee that a cake made with all of the real ingredients tastes better than the fat free/sugar free versions!

  15. Something about baking is so soothing, and when I’m seeing people eat the food and enjoy it there is something so satisfying about it. Yesterday me and my 10 year old were making chocolate chip cookies and just watching how proud she was just melted my heart even though she was a bit cocky lol.

  16. Sally, I totally relate to your 9-5 need to do something creative. It’s a huge part of what motivates me to bake!

    I’ve always found baking to be somewhat therapeutic. When my grandparents died within 48 hours of each other, my cousin (not the same family) who also loves your blog bought me Sally’s Cookie Addiction. Baking batches of cookies for my coworkers forced me to get off the couch at least every 10 minutes most nights. Silly as it sounds, it was the therapy I needed to get through that horrible fall and winter.

    We still love every one of your recipes ❤️

    1. Oh Erin, I absolutely loved reading about what baking means to you. I’m thrilled that baking offered a happy outlet for you during a very difficult time. Thank you for sharing, and for baking and trusting my recipes 🙂

  17. Baking means “home” to me. It’s all-consuming and relaxing at the same time lol. It’s creative, as I love to challenge myself and make something pretty and yummish haha. What I really love about baking is that it (usually lol) brings so much joy and happiness to those I love and care about. There is nothing better to me than the smell of something delicious coming from the kitchen in the form of baked goods. I come from a big family and we all bake. We all share recipes etc. Every Thursday I bake something for my coworkers. I get up a little earlier (yawn) that day and totally enjoy baking a breakfast treat. It makes us all happy and gives us something to look forward to. So again, for me baking is “home”. Thank you for so many outstanding recipes Sally. I always look forward to your posts. Take care.

  18. Dear Sally, you have said it exactly! I lost that joy a few years ago but I feel a little spark once more. You are responsible for my remembering the sheer contentedness of creating and providing. Thank you!.

  19. When i was a little girl, i was totally in awe of baked goods, marble cakes,jelly rolls…how did the chocolate cake get inside the vanilla one, how can jelly be put inside a rolled cake. And always loved to eat the baked goods too …. So when i got the means i started baking. I came across your blog and there haven’t been no looking back. Like you said it helps my creative juices to flow and is soothing. I do like challenging myself to bake more complex recipes. Which again, i don’t have to look elsewhere. Thanks for doing what you do,so that many people like me are able to pursue our hobby too.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing what baking means to you, Ami! I am thrilled that you enjoy so many of my recipes- thank you for trusting my blog! 🙂

  20. Baking is exactly the same for me. It truly brings me joy and is a stress reliever. I find even the thought of trying a new recipe and preparing or thinking of the ingredients I need soothing.
    The only problem is since baked goods are not healthy I have to limit how much I bake so as not to have too much waste. In my dream world I’d be whipping up something everyday 😀

  21. Baking/cooking is a God given gift in many different ways! Baking to me means three important factors. 1) God gave us the ability to create something beautiful just like He created us into His beautiful image!
    2) I love watching things form, rise, grow and turn into something beautiful and tasty! I love to try new recipes with new flavors- there are endless possibilities with flavors! I love just a few ingredients can turn into a tasty masterpiece! Just like we are God’s masterpiece!
    3) It is a way to show unconditional love, make special memories with family and friends, sharing recipes passed down through generations, and serving others in their time of need or just want to make them feel special. Baking is good for the soul. After all, Happiness is Homemade!

  22. Baking reminds me of my mother and brother. I loved baking for them. My mother was an excellent cook and baker. She passed her love for cooking and baking. My brother would eat everything I cooked and baked when I was first learning as a young girl. He always encouraged me by always saying it was delicious. Because of his praise, I continued to strive as a cook and baker. Now a days, I bake for my family, friends and coworkers.

  23. I’m super clumsy, so I was never really allowed in the kitchen much when I was younger. Also, my mon’s a control freak, so she would never let my brothers and me help out with dinner. Sometimes she’d let us set the table, but the most I was ever allowed to make was toast.

    I started baking in earnest in college, during midterms and finals. I would feel overwhelmed because I’d have so much to do and wouldn’t know where to start, but recipes have ingredients and step-by-step instructions. It gave me structure and calmed me down. It also made me immensely popular once people realized that I always had delicious baked goods during exam time 🙂

    Now it’s my me time. Cooking and baking is something that I’m good at and I enjoy. I like to make people happy, and everyone likes to eat! If I need a break from my baby or something, I’ll tell my husband “I need to make something delicious that I won’t eat” (I actually don’t have much of a sweet tooth). Since he knows he’ll get to reap the benefits, he is totally fine with handling things for a couple of hours.

    Baking makes me happy, and it makes others happy too. What’s not to love?

    1. Love reading this, Liz! Thank you so much for sharing what baking means to you 🙂 Your husband is very fortunate!

  24. Baking to me ts like magic once i start baking i forget abt my problems for tht period , t makes me feel different n new again ts just awesome i some times miss t

  25. Baking to me means sharing life, love and tender for everyone. It the every day message “ I DO care for you “ ! The energy you put in preparing the food, is the energy people “ eat” from you. So that is the reason why I think it is SO important to love what you do!

  26. Besides the obvious benefit of homemade dessert almost every day..baking is just a joy for me! The whole process of mixing or kneading is relaxing and fun for me. As many others have said, it’s a way of showing love to my family and friends-many who do not cook or bake at all! And it’s pretty great to show up at someones home with a freshly baked dessert(most of them your recipes!)and make people so happy! Thanks Sally!!

    1. Love it! I too, enjoy surprising friends and family with a freshly baked dessert- one of my favorite ways to show I care 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Dana!

  27. I am not what I would consider a creative outlet. I love to create things, but I need instructions telling me what to do – knitting, cross stitch, and of course, baking fit the bill! I enjoy the process and making things that taste delicious and bring joy to others. I’ve always enjoyed baking – I remember my sister telling me when I was a kid that I should open a bakery. – and have done even more of it as my daughters grew and I had more time. It really is a creative outlet for me. I love to see what other people do and try to do it myself. I love love love making sugar cookies with fun designs in royal icing. Cupcakes. Cookies. Quick breads. It all brings me joy. Except the dishes. No joy there. Last Christmas I paid my daughter an hourly wage to clean up after me! Best baking season ever.

  28. Baking is the way I express myself without giving a hug! I lets me feel like I can show I care . It keeps me happy while doing it and giving it!

  29. I love seeing the finish product of baked goods and being the person that is the go to for treats! I’ve loved spending quality time with my nieces & nephews while we created baked goods.

    1. Love this, Linda! Thanks for participating in this conversation 🙂 What sweet memories you are making with your nieces and nephews!

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