Bakers aim to make days delicious

Food is a basic part of human survival, but instead of treating it like a chore, humans have embraced the art of eating food and found ways to make it more fun and appetizing.

As some St. Paul Academy and Summit School students have found, baking is a great way to move away from eating out of necessity and instead make eating fun.

Many SPA students and faculty have baked as a hobby for a long time and also enjoy sharing their craft with their peers. Baking is these students’ bread and butter, but without being able to share their creations, it just wouldn’t be as sweet.

Sophomore George Stiffman has become a well-known face at SPA due to his successful cookie business. He started the business Stiffman Cookie Co. to raise money for a trip with his soccer team last year and his love of baking has evolved from there. Though Stiffman started baking solely at school events his business became more popular as he followed his newfound love of baking.
Stiffman started promoting his business by holding tasting events and creating special menu items. “Chocolate chip cookies and snickerdoodle cookies were the best sellers,” Stiffman said. Despite the popularity of these original cookies, Stiffman would invent new special cookies for holidays.

Senior Charlie Rosenblum also has a special reason to bake. He is part of the student group Intercultural Club and occasionally bakes for their meetings. “I think food is a central part of many different cultures,” Rosenblum said. For this reason, Intercultural Club has food at all of their meetings, even if it is store bought. “Food gets people to sit down together and talk,” Rosenblum said. When Rosenblum bakes for his interest it helps the group sit together and talk proving that baking brings people together.

Once a year, Upper School math teacher Mickey Scott brings her students delicious pies to eat. “Everyone is thrilled to get a pie,” Scott said.

Luckily for her students, they get a special treat on March 14 most years. The date March 14 is representative of the special number pi because the number starts with the digits 3.14. This is why “pi day” is celebrated during the third month of the year, on the fourteenth day. “Pi day is a fun excuse to treat my classes to pie,” Scott said.

Some bakers bake for specific purposes at SPA but most just bake for fun. Freshman Neeti Kulkarni bakes during her free time and sometimes, to the delight of her peers, brings what she bakes to school. “I really like the simple things that I bake,” Kulkarni said. She often bakes cookies and cupcakes but she has recently started making varieties of breads more frequently, especially zucchini.

Similar to Kulkarni, junior Mattie Daub also bakes for fun and tries to find every opportunity to share with others. She bakes for Wednesday’s advisory snack and often for her fellow actors at play practice. “I baked for the People for Environmental Protection rain garden fundraiser,” Daub said.“I’m not even in PEP!”

Stiffman and Rosenblum often bake for school and special events but others have their earliest memories of baking with their families.

“My mom and grandma would get together and we’d make Christmas cookies,” Upper School English teacher Eric Severson said. He often bakes macaroons and ginger snaps for his cast in school plays or for his English classes.

Daub also thinks back to her early childhood for memories of baking, “I was home sick from school and my mom was making cookies. I dumped a lot of Tylenol in the batter so it was obviously not for serving.” Daub continued to want to help with her mom’s cooking and so her mother taught her to bake pies, cookies and cakes.

Kulkarni was still motivated to bake by her parents but not quite in the same way. “When someone else from my family would cook they kind of burned everything. I wanted to make something without burning it,” Kulkarni said.

Though it is becoming more popular, baking is not a piece of cake. Baking takes a fair amount of time and effort. You can’t just throw things into an oven; there are plenty of do’s and donut’s.

“I’ve put in more work [for Stiffman Cookie Co.] than I’ve put in for most other things,” Stiffman said. He had to stop inventing new cookie varieties and having tasting events due to the amount of time it was taking up in his schedule. “I’ll still bake people cookies if they order them,” Stiffman said, that is, if you pay him the dough.

Baking requires focus and technique. This may be tasking on some but others embrace the challenge and love to bake even more for it. “Baking is a stress release for me,” Severson said.

There are two important factors that keep these bakers baking. The first is a love of food. “I just love tasting food,” Stiffman said.

“I would travel places, try something new [and] then I’d try to recreate it.” Severson said. Loving food is important but perhaps even more important is a love of feeding others. These bakers love to taste their own creations but at the same time they feel the knead to share with others.

“In my mind, the food that I bake tastes really good, but I enjoy watching people’s reactions to confirm that they really enjoy it,” Severson said.

Kulkarni showed similar feelings when she said, “When I make something good and people try it, their satisfied faces leave me with a really good feeling.”

In fact the idea of giving treats to others seems to be what keeps the food coming. “I like sharing food with people,” Daub said.

The hobby of baking is really heating up at SPA. With advisory snack on Wednesdays and the new long class schedule there are numerous opportunities for bakers to give out treats. Bakers at SPA take advantage of these opportunities and gain satisfaction from baking and sharing their food. After all, if it makes a fellow student’s day better, it’s the yeast they can do.