Student bakers use hobby as form of self-care

Izzy Gaspar’raj | The Chronicle

Young bakers are using their craft as a unique form of self-care.

When attempting to deal with the stress that comes with homework, jobs, and college applications, many students find peace of mind in everyday activities. Some students, for example, use baking as their form of self-care. This practice allows them to share their baked goods with those around them, and in turn, make those that receive their creations feel better.

Freshman Ahan Prasad quickly turned his quarantine project into a business to express his love for his art. Prasad spent his excess time during the COVID-19 lockdown by watching baking videos on Youtube to learn new techniques and see new creations. He started baking more frequently during this time, developing his passion for baking and his baking skills.

After simply baking to give goods to friends and family, Prasad was encouraged to sell his delicacies to the community.

Taking the advice of friends and family, he developed his business in which he mainly creates cakes, with butterscotch being his favorite flavor to bake. Besides baking being an activity Prasad is passionate about, he said he enjoys baking for his business because it brings him joy while also bringing his customers at the same time.

“[Baking] is something that I enjoy doing,” Prasad said. “And other people can also enjoy it too, so I’m helping other people.”

Although Prasad participates in numerous activities, he still finds time to fill orders for his business. He said that baking brings him peace and gives him the motivation to take more orders. When Prasad is not feeling his best, he sometimes uses baking as a strategy to boost his mood.

“[It helps me] lose stress for the day,” Prasad said. “I’m just focused on making cakes for people.”

Sophomore Annabella Cortez found herself interested in baking from watching baking shows when she was young. This kickstarted her baking journey by leading her to ask for a baking kit as a gift last Christmas. She considers herself a ‘self-taught Pinterest’ baker, having learned many recipes herself. Similar to Prasad, she uses baking as a distraction to calm herself down so she can mentally prepare for any challenges.

“[I bake] before big tests,” Cortez said. “It helps me focus and gives me a break from studying and from the other busy things in life.”

Even putting off responsibilities to make time for baking can be worth it to be more productive in the long run. Cortez said that she considers baking her “creative outlet” that can be utilized the same as other forms of art, such as painting and drawing, by helping her to “relieve stress and slow down.”

Another young baker, senior Jenna Skidmore also started to bake more during the lockdown. She found baking sweet treats for her friends during this time helped her to take her mind off of anxiety-inducing events and also helped spread positivity among her close friends.

“Not only was it nice to see another human, being in quarantine, but it was cool to give [baked goods] to people and watch their faces light up,” Skidmore said. “And [they] taste good, too!”

Skidmore even crafted her own brownie recipe during the lockdown. As she gifted her creations to friends during the shutdown, she gave some to a friend whose dad ironically happened to be the head chef at Kings Island (KI). Their dad was so impressed by Skidmore’s brownie recipe that he even offered her a position at KI for baking, proposing she sell her brownies under her name at KI. Though perceived by Skidmore as a joke offer at first, she eventually started working at KI as a baker. She even had her signature brownie recipe sold under her name: ‘Jenna’s Old-Time Brownies’.

Skidmore said she loved working at KI and said she appreciated being able to “share something that [she] made with other people in a wider scope,” because it was a “great opportunity” as she got to connect with new people and pursue what she loves.

When turning a passion into a job or responsibility, it is common to lose interest or find pressure instead of fulfillment. However, Prasad said he actually finds he likes having a business better than just “baking for fun.” Prasad’s customers depend on him to create delicious and beautiful cakes for such important occasions, an aspect of his baking endeavors that brings him fulfillment.

“People putting trust in me is drive enough [for me to bake],” Prasad said. “That makes their day better and that makes me feel better.”

Cortez said that baking has become a very valuable coping mechanism and a steady anchor in her life, allowing her to slow down and still her mind. Because of this, she finds time to bake at least once a week as a reset to prepare herself for life’s many challenges.

“When I bake, everything is out of my mind and I’m focused on baking,” Cortez said. “I slow down, and the time alone helps me think and process.”

Photos contributed by (from left to right) Ahan Prasad, Annabella Cortez and Jenna Skidmore.