Baking together, from a distance

Baking can bring comfort, enhance a culture, and bring people together. Many throughout the pandemic have found comfort in baking, such as banana bread and sourdough bread, and found it brought communities closer together during the eerie times. Ria Sharma ’23 has done just that, by creating the Dana Hall Baking Club. 

Ria has always loved baking, and her passion deepened over quarantine. During the lockdown, Ria baked numerous treats from chocolate chip cookies to carrot cake and shared her baked goods with peers. She realized that many others have found or continued their passions for baking as well. Over the years, Ria had thought of creating a baking club due to her strong passion for baking, but this year she took initiative due to the “powerful support” from her peers. The head of the English Department, Ms. Linda Derezinski, is the faculty advisor of the club and attends and bakes at every meeting. 

The club meets every one to two weeks, typically during early afternoons, on Saturday or Sunday. Ria sends out an email to the whole Upper School, including an image of what she has decided to bake, a list of ingredients needed, the recipe itself, the Zoom link, and the date and time of the meeting. She typically sends it out a week before, so members can gather ingredients in time.

The meetings take place via Zoom Call so all members can see and talk to each other. Ria has an extra device herself to have a bird’s-eye view of her work, so others can follow what she is doing, and she has another camera during the Zoom call showing her face so she can interact with other members. After each meeting, Ria always follows up with an email asking for suggestions for the next meeting.

Ria’s interest in baking originates from her time as a toddler. She did bake from a young age, but Ria also used to cook Indian food with her grandmother, oftentimes using her grandmother’s recipes. Ria would use her grandmother’s cookbook to cook dishes on her own, and time in the kitchen developed into a hobby, which soon narrowed to her passion for baking. 

An important aspect of the club to Ria is to ensure a low-stress environment and less commitment than other clubs. Ria stated, “As a Dana student myself I understand the stress that classes and homework can bring, and baking is one way that I have used to cope with the stress.” Due to Dana’s “rigorous academic nature,” she decided to share her love for baking with others, to hope she can bring some moments to unwind with other peers. 

Kate Adams ’23, a member of the baking club and a local day student, has baked in the past as a hobby. She enjoys baking chocolate chip cookies. Kate decided to join the Baking Club because she finds baking to be relaxing and trying out new recipes to be fun. 

Kate has found it fun to bake with peers from school. At times she cannot find the time to bake because of school, so attending the club is her opportunity to “make the time, especially with my friends.” She also said that the club can be a great starting point to start and find interest in baking even if one has no baking experience.

Ria encourages members of the Dana Hall community to join the club, as an opportunity to try new recipes and relationships. “I’m very open to hear other people’s suggestions, because I want to be as inclusive as possible. If anyone ever has a recipe to share to the community or want to try for the first time it is highly encouraged in the club to share your ideas, because it’s your club and I’m here to help.” If you have a recipe you want to try or would like to have guidance on, Ria would love to have you come to the club.

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