With flour, sugar, and salt by her side, Kate Sherman finds bliss in baking

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With flour, sugar, and salt by her side, Kate Sherman finds bliss in baking

Gathered in the kitchen with her siblings, sophomore Kate Sherman took on the feat of creating a fresh, homemade batch of cupcakes for her mom as a representation of her appreciation. However, as she and her siblings assembled the tools and ingredients necessary, an integral ingredient was missing: vanilla extract.

Kate continued on anyway, deciding to take an abnormal route by using cherry extract instead, and when her sister asked to place berries at the bottom of the cupcakes to give them character, she couldn’t turn down the offer.

But, their efforts quickly fell through. The frosting melted, and everything began leaking into the baking tin. Kate and her family nevertheless enjoyed the cupcakes, or at least what was left of them.

To her, the mess could not muzzle the delight of her creation.

“It was kind of a disaster of a cupcake,” Kate said, “but they were good. I kind of thought of it as funny. I mean, you can’t really mess up a cupcake. It always tastes good, unless you pour like three cups of vinegar into it.”

Kate’s decision to create these cupcakes stemmed from the fact that baking is a hobby she frequently invests her time in.

After the act of baking percolated down her family tree from her grandmother down to her mom, she naturally picked it up as a hobby a few years ago. Specifically, while preparing for a Thanksgiving dinner, she helped her mom bake pies, and it dawned up her that this was something she genuinely enjoyed.

“After [Thanksgiving],” Kate said, “I was like ‘hey, that’s really fun. I should try doing this more often.’ I love baking, which is kind of weird, but I love baking. [It’s weird] because a lot of people don’t really bake. It’s kind of like a 50-year-old-mom type of thing.”

I love baking, which is kind of weird, but I love baking. [It’s weird] because a lot of people don’t really bake. It’s kind of like a 50-year-old-mom type of thing.”

Over the years of baking that has occurred in her family, a collection of baking cards have come along with it, and Kate has begun to record recipes in her Chromebook, as well. Out of the myriad of baked goods created at the hands of Kate, pie crusts, she says, are her favorite things to pull from recipes and bake.

Making pie crusts requires an attentive eye for detail because, with one meager slip, the crust’s taste is thrown out of balance. This vital accuracy excites Kate, and explicitly following recipes is one of the many reasons why she has fun while baking.

“[I like baking] because it’s very precise,” Kate said, “and I like getting everything perfect with it. I’m a perfectionist. I enjoy the little stress [baking] comes with. I like making it right, like adding just the right amount of water; it makes me happy.”

Occasionally, however, Kate deviates from the boundaries of instructions and ordinary treats. Although she prefers making precise moves, she sometimes changes recipes, becoming more inventive with her ingredients at hand.

“I also like being creative with coming up with recipes to mix together,” Kate said. “It’s fun, for sure. It weirds me out sometimes. I had to use applesauce instead of olive oil one time. I feel very independent improvising the last minute. It is [exciting] because you never know how it’s going to turn out in the end.”

For example, Kate says she has a chocolate cupcake recipe that she loves, but she wants to experiment with different flavors of frosting. So, she is planning to try to make it with a pomegranate frosting.

“I’ve never [made pomegranate frosting],” Kate said, “so I’m going to do a lot of  ‘winging it.’ I do that a lot because I never have all of the ingredients that I need. Like, one time, I tried making mint frosting using a vanilla frosting recipe, and it turned out pretty well. It kind of tasted like toothpaste, but it was still pretty good. I was very proud of myself.”

While baking, Kate periodically listens to music, specifically her favorite band Pink Floyd. The classic rock band both calms and energizes Kate, and she finds it as an enjoyable accompaniment. Other times, however, Kate likes to bake in silence or have her siblings join her in the process.

Despite the environment, baking, in general, is both calming and fun for Kate.

“It’s calming to mix everything together and to make something,” Kate said. “It’s also de-stressing because it’s something you know you can get right if you just follow the recipe, so I don’t have to worry about completely messing it up. I don’t really get stressed too often, but whenever I am, I think, ‘hey, I should go bake a batch of cookies right now’”

In the future, Kate plans to continue baking, experimenting, and following several recipes. Once she is old enough to work, she says she may even want to work at a bakery, but she doesn’t want to pursue it as a serious profession.

Instead, she hopes to keep it close to her as a hobby, and in the upcoming years, Kate wants to break more boundaries in pursuit to create her own recipe.

“I usually use the recipes we already have,” Kate said. “They already work, and I don’t want to mix a bunch of random stuff together and call that baking. But I want to someday try to make my own recipe once I get really good at it. I’m not at that point yet, but someday I want to make my entirely own pie recipe with different kinds of crust and mix it all up.”

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