If cooking is an art, then baking is a science. Perhaps even more, it’s chemistry, bringing together a cacophony of simple ingredients and preparing them in a way so they emerge as wonderfully new and delicious creations.
Sometimes, however, in life just as in baking, things don’t always go according to plan. This is exactly the predicament of BAKED.
BAKED is a collective of Athens women who love to bake. From cookies to croissants, breads to pies and muffins to fudge, the ladies at BAKED can do just about anything.
Faith Rocchio is a BAKED member responsible in part for spearheading the collective.
“We were a group of mom who just liked to bake,” Rocchio said. “And people really liked what we were baking.”
The ladies of BAKED have only been making their items available to the public for the last three weeks, mainly through Saturday residencies at Comer Farmers Market.
BAKED planned to have a grand opening tasting party later this month, but have since moved the date back to July 14, due to the overwhelming interest from the community.
“We made a little Facebook page and expected family and a couple of friends,” RaeAnne Sturgill, another founding member of BAKED said.
Rocchio and Sturgill figured a maximum of 50 people would be interested in BAKED’s opening and were shocked to see that closer to 200 people wanted a taste of their treats.
Rocchio and Sturgill are both mothers who enjoy getting to spend time baking in their kitchen, often while keeping a watchful eye over their young children.
“I always cook for my only family from scratch,” Rocchio said. “I didn’t really start baking until I had kids.”
Rocchio discovered her oldest child had a soy allergy early on and crafted ways to make enjoyable treats that were accessible to her child’s diet. While the allergy has since gone away, Rocchio still incorporates aspects of inclusive eating into her baking practices.
“I really think it’s important if you’re going to put it inside of your body,” Rocchio said. “It should first taste good but then also it should nourish your body in some way.”
While the methods of BAKED’s bakers are all different, Rocchio tends to create nutrient-dense treats that are fruit and vegetable based. She opts for sprouted grain flours and makes her own food coloring and sprinkles.
Although vegetables may not sound like a treat to some people, Rocchio is still focused on the overall taste of her items.
“If someone bites into a brownie that’s vegan and black-bean based, I want them to have no clue that it’s healthy,” Rocchio said. “I want it to be just as decadent as a normal, sugar-filled brownie.”
Baking is no easy process and, contrary to popular belief, is a meticulous and effortful process.
For Sturgill, making croissants could take three days to bake and prepare for sale, carefully considering each stage of prepping dough, proofing, baking, wrapping and labeling her items. Whether it be croissants or baklava, Sturgill rejoices in finding her happy place in the kitchen.
Both Sturgill and Rocchio are overwhelmed by the community’s response and in the process of taking the necessary steps to ensure they have the proper certifications and inspection requirements.
What began as perhaps a risky or small endeavor has since transformed into a daunting task of organization and planning.
“Were both supportive of each other,” Sturgill said. “It’s a great way to keep our friendship and not just be a business.”
Through it all, the ladies of BAKED are reminded that sometimes life throws out an unexpected batch of opportunity.
“For me what’s really cool is both to be able to do something for myself that’s going really well and then also for my kids to see that you can do what you want to do and be doing it well,” Rocchio said. “You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing … you can do whatever you want actually to do and it will work out.”