Italian Peach Cookies baked by Mary Smorol, Gr. 10
By Katherine Mezzalingua
Being quarantined in your house is an ideal time to get to know your kitchen a little more and to experiment with different appliances you find there. One in particular that you might find appealing could be something you’ve never touched or something you may use regularly. It’s warm, and your parents use it to make pizza or heat up foods; you guessed it, an oven! Challenge yourself during these weeks at home to bake something simple if you are new to the baking game, or something unique and exotic if you have significant experience. If you’ve never baked, pick up a baking book; if you have baked before, pick out some more challenging recipes. Regardless of your skill level, baking is an ideal time to reflect, brainstorm ideas for a project, or just make a sweet treat for those around you.
Baking has a different effect on everyone, but one experienced baker enjoys the stress-relieving aspect of it. Mary Smorol has been baking for several years and has experimented with various different recipes, although one new to her is the recipe for Italian peach cookies. Although this normally would be considered a challenging recipe, it doesn’t even scratch the surface of her baking talents. Mary remembers a more challenging baking experiment when she made a giant brain cake, which was a red velvet cake with a raspberry filling and chocolate ganache. While in quarantine, she has been baking nearly twice a week, and she plans on trying more unique recipes!
Another student who enjoys baking, but is relatively new to the fun, is Arman Nizam. Arman directs the same enthusiasm to his baking as he does his singing and dancing in and out of school. He considers himself a level two baker; he finds that his favorite part of baking is that he can spend time with his family, and of course, loves what he makes…most of the time. His favorite baked good is one made by his oldest sister, a molten lava chocolate cake, and he learns a lot about baking from her. Arman’s favorite baking creation that he makes himself is one that was recently added to his recipe list: bread pudding. It’s not only easy but “for the work, it’s so good,” Arman said. In just the last week and a half, Arman has made it at least three times! He also said that as a beginner, the bread pudding is a perfect starting point. Due to the distinctive taste of the bread pudding, Arman and his friends call it a “French Toast Casserole,” because it is reminiscent of a great french toast. Furthermore, one of the primary reasons why Arman derives so much pleasure from baking is because he can do it with his family. “Everybody just lets loose a little, and we try some stupid stuff sometimes.” He also discussed how everyone felt more creative, and at one point his creativity overpowered his logic and even added hot sauce into cookies. Regardless of the disgustingly “hot and sweet” taste, he and his family loved having an outlet to be creative and enjoy each other’s company in the kitchen. Bread Pudding baked by Arman Nizam, Gr. 10
A baker who is known throughout the MPH community is Katie Pratt. She has done everything from bake for an advisory snack to making cupcakes for her student council campaign. She finds that baking brings out her creative side, and loves that she can share that side of herself and her baking with others. Katie recommends chocolate chip cookies as a beginner’s recipe or perfecting a simple treat. When thinking back on her baking memories, one sticks out to her in particular. One of the craziest and most imaginative cakes she’s made was when she was in ninth grade. “I baked some sort of geometric, optical illusion inspired cake for an art project,” and she remembers featuring a bunch of geometric shapes leaning onto each other. Katie finds that she has the energy to bake during social distancing “out of boredom,” she said. So far Katie has baked three cakes and several batches of cupcakes and cookies and plans on furthering her baking skills.
If you find some extra time on your hands or decide you want to try something new, take it from these experienced bakers. Perfect the simplest of recipes: chocolate chip cookies or cupcakes, or get inventive and try something unique like Arman’s bread pudding, Mary’s Italian peach cookies, or even Katie’s geometric cake. Even better, make your own recipes, have baking competitions with your siblings or parents, or even watch baking shows. You can do everything from listening to music while whipping up treats, or having virtual bake-offs with your friends! Regardless of your baking talents, add some sweetness to the quarantine lifestyle, and strive to gain your baking license…it can come in handy. Good luck and happy baking!