It’s fair to say the past six months of this quasi-quarantine/summer break has seen its fair share of viral entertainment trends.
From late March when the Netflix phenomenon “Tiger King” took over the world, to the DIY phase of mid-May when everyone felt the simultaneous need to paint mini canvases and learn to crotchet.
Then came the flurry of flour, butter, sugar and eggs as everyone everywhere felt the need to fill their ovens with various baked goods. Social media became flooded with polls on whose muffin recipe was truly the best and the next “must try” hit recipes. Experts and amateurs alike took this time to show off their artisan creations.
In the tornado of cakes, brownies, muffins and pastries galore, there was one stand-out baked good that everyone was locked in a fierce competition to perfect: banana bread.
Whether you’ve been perfecting the art of the banana bread loaf your entire life, or have only just made your first batch, this time during quarantine provided a creative outlet and sense of accomplishment for countless people across the nation.
Blake Tokatly, a junior computer science major at Gonzaga had his first taste of baking when he was 12 years old with his mom.
“I would help my mom make cookies for my brother’s football team,” Tokatly said via email. “By high school I was taking over most of the holiday baking.”
Flash forward to today and Tokatly has turned his love of baking into a club at GU. “Bulldog Baking Bunch” is a club he co-created with his fellow Zag Kate MacRae to bring students together who might otherwise not interact.
“Before COVID-19 we had hopes of hosting baking events for recipe swaps, good food and great conversation,” Tokatly said. “As things (hopefully) settle down we hope to host in person or virtual instructional sessions for students. The time spent is worth it when you’re doing something you love.”
While he waits out of the pandemic before starting the club back up, you can follow along as he shares his baking creations on his new YouTube channel “The Blakery.”
If you’ve just started to dabble in baking, it can feel overwhelming as you navigate the plethora of online recipes available. Tokatly suggests talking to as many people as you can and staying open to suggestions.
“The more tips, tricks and methods you know the more you’ll get comfortable and develop a sixth sense for baking,” Tokatly said. “In particular, learn about how to use butter, eggs and flour properly, I consider this to be the cornerstone of baking.”
Robyn Fietz, a GU junior studying accounting and entrepreneurial leadership has also turned her love of baking into more than just a hobby. After winning a book on how to make cake pops in the fifth grade, Fietz began making them for friends and family.
“It evolved into a full business after I created a website and Facebook page,” Fietz said via email. “I signed a lease on a commercial kitchen, obtained my business license, and before long I was selling them at a handful of coffee shops in my hometown and for events such as weddings, birthdays, baby showers, etc.”
From humble beginnings, her small business Cakepop Girl LLC was born. Fietz doesn’t get much time to bake during the school year but loves to come home during breaks and pick up where she left off.
Her love of baking began at young age. Ever since she can remember she’s loved being in the kitchen baking. Her favorite show at the time “Cake Boss” only spurred on her enthusiasm for baking even more.
“The cakes that Buddy [the owner of the bakery] and his employees made inspired me to create my own baked goods and decorate them,” Fietz said.
While baking can sometimes feel more like a chore than a joy, she always loves testing out new recipes, flavors and designs. Her advice for new bakers is to stick with it, even through all the stumbles and setbacks.
“Don’t get discouraged if a recipe doesn’t turn out great. Keep trying or move on to a new recipe, but don’t give up and think you’re a bad baker,” Fietz said.
Follow the Bulldog Baking Bunch on Instagram for updates on club meetings and gatherings: @bulldogbakingbunch. Or send them an email at email@example.com for more information.
Follow Fietz’s cake pop account on Instagram at @cakepop.girl for custom orders. For those still in search of a go-to banana bread recipe, Tokatly has shared his holy grail one here:
Blake’s Banana Bread Recipe:
-3 bananas (mashed),
- ½ cup white sugar
-¼ cup butter (melted)
-1 ½ cup flour
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp salt.
Optional: ½ cup chocolate chips [I use semi-sweet but milk are good too!]
1 cup walnuts [or pecans]
Mix everything in order. Place in greased loaf pan. I usually rub the pan with frozen butter then line with flour. Bake at 325F for about an hour (Until toothpick comes out clean).