Baking is more than recipes for aspiring chef


Lana Monkhouse

“I’ve got a passion for baking”, senior Maddie MCGuire said. “I love to do it all and be able to share it with others.” Maddie carefully pipes frosting ropes on a cake for a family friend’s 50th birthday party.

Lana Monkhouse, Staff Writer

Things started off smoothly. The room smelled of rasberry filling and freshly baked chocolate cake as she smeared homemade frosting on the layered creation and sang along to her favorite Taylor Swift tune. But a moment later, as heat from the overhead lamps filled the small room, she hurried to finish her task while keeping the icing– carefully piped ropes of wilted buttercream — from melting.
Imitating her idols — pastry chefs from the popular television shows, “Ace of Cakes” and “Cake Boss” — senior Maddie McGuire put the cake in the refrigerator, took a deep breath and a sip from her water bottle and tried not to panic. She can’t panic, ever — not if she wants to stay on a path toward a career in the culinary industry.
At a young age, Maddie’s attention to detail was apparent. As she placed candies atop gingerbread houses annually with friends and family and donned an apron to help her mom in the kitchen, Maddie began to notice the satisfaction she got from creating. Having many older siblings and friends working alongside her only made her more determined.
“Being the youngest, Maddie was always trying to keep up with the big kids, and I think she did a pretty good job,” said father Jeff McGuire said.
Baking a cake takes around three days — and three days are hard to come by in Maddie’s schedule. She fills her time with after-school activies like A Capella choir and varsity theater, and the stage is her main priority as she prepares for the theater department’s production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”
But her schedule doesn’t keep her out of the kitchen altogether.
“If I’m having a bad day, I’ll come home and make some cookies or something,” Maddie said. “My mind can just go on autopilot.”
Maddie is a perfectionist in all areas of her life, whether it’s grammar rules in her English class or hitting a note just right in the choir room. Her face was creased with concentration as she used a toothpick to carefully shape a pink rose made from buttercream frosting that sat upon the cake she was baking for a 50th birthday party. This is where her perfectionism becomes a problem.
“It takes me longer to do things,” Maddie said. “If I’m not satisfied with [a cake] I’m not going to let it out the door because if it’s not something I’m proud of, why would I want it to be part of someone else’s special event?”
Maddie said she has learned that she sometimes has to set her perfectionism aside and salvage what she has to left work with. Cakes almost never turn out exactly she wants them to, and, through both a 16th bithday cake gone awry and a Chinese takeout box themed cake that didn’t turn out as planned, she has discovered how to deal with major mess-ups.
“It happens to even the people on TV,” Maddie said. “They’re like ‘okay, let’s see what we can do,’ and I think that can be applied to life in general. When something happens you just have to be like, ‘okay, how can we fix this?”
Since she is mainly self-taught, Maddie decided to hone her pastry-making skills in a piping class this summer at Michael’s. Besides learning how to make frosting flowers, Maddie gained knowledge on what she stressed as a very important kitchen skill – saving a cake that is stuck to the bottom of a pan.
“When I do go into school [for pastry arts], I’ll already have a leg up because I can say, ‘Hey! I already know how to do this,'” rather than just figuring it out on my own,” Maddie said.
It was just last year that Maddie really began to think of baking as more than just a hobby. When a friend’s mom approached her about purchasing a cake for a surprise 16th birthday party, Maddie realized that this was something that she could do for a living.
“I’d never had that happen before,” Maddie said. “It never occurred to me that someone would want to pay me for my cakes.”
After high school, Maddie has big plans for her baking career — some of which are partially inspired by her older sister, Meghan McGuire.
“Now that my girls are older I don’t do so much of the cooking anymore because they like to come in and take over,” said Dee McGuire, Maddie’s mother. “Her sister will make dinner and [Maddie] will make dessert. It’s really rewarding because I feel like I did something right.”
Maddie started her college search at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Dallas, but her research has lead her to Collin College — a place she feels is a little more low key — where she plans to double major in culinary and pastry arts.
“I’ll support her with whatever she chooses,” Dee said. “She’s got natural talent.”
Maddie hopes that she can make it in the big-time cake industry, but ultimately, she feels that the joy she gets from baking comes mostly outside of the kitchen.
“I can make something that will make somebody’s day — that’s really special,” Maddie said.