On the first Friday of every month, a crowd of students from the College convene in the front entryway of Mission Hall to “get baked,” in the most wholesome sense of the term. The club “Get Baked” serves student-made baked goods near the pool tables and kitchen at 10 p.m., but preparation begins hours beforehand.
During the club’s March gathering I spoke with Mia Gancayco ’18, co-president of the organization, to get a sense of the effort that goes into baking each month. In addition to Gancayco, there are usually five others who help prepare the baked goods. The food each week is selected to correspond with a particular theme, which is decided upon at club meetings leading up to Friday nights. Gancayco says members come to the meetings with ideas for foods they’ve “always wanted to bake,” and a theme is formulated around these food preferences. In the past few months, some Get Baked themes included July in January, Cookie Extravaganza and Midnight in Paris, the last of which consisted of nutella-stuffed crepes, éclairs, cream puffs and crepe towers. The March theme was Breakfast in Bed, and the spread boasted an array of nut butters, freshly-baked breads, muffins and pancakes.
After all the time devoted to the labor-intensive baking process, the food is depleted quickly. During the March session, a customary Mission fire alarm drove a crowd of displaced residents into the vicinity, and I watched as stacks of pancakes and a multitude of muffins were entirely consumed within minutes of being placed on the table.
Amidst a moment of calm post-fire alarm, I got the chance to speak at greater length with Gancayco. Now a junior, she said she initially heard about the club during First Days as a first-year. She was immediately interested, attended regularly and resolved to see the club continue throughout her time at the College. That spring, the club’s president graduated, and in the fall of her sophomore year, Gancayco returned to campus as co-president of Get Baked.
The purpose of the club is to provide “a wholesome alternative to going out on party nights,” Gancayco said. “It’s so much fun. People always love it, and it’s great to see people’s faces.” When asked if she had a favorite theme so far, she responded with Fancy Cake Night, an event in which “we just made fancy cakes, but it was everything I’ve ever wanted,” she said. The theme was chosen after Gancayco professed her dream of baking her own wedding cake, a dream that was nearly fulfilled when she crafted her own miniature wedding cake.
Gancayco said she has been really impressed by some of the newer members’ involvement in the club, specifically mentioning the “super enthusiastic” Jeremy Shields ’20. A first-year member of Get Baked and regular club attendee, his favorite theme so far was Cupcake Night, when the club concocted “cupcake[s] with a surprise inside,” he said. “We baked cupcakes with holes in the middle and filled them with M&Ms. When you took a bite, it crunched.”
Shields came to the College with an interest in baking and became involved with Get Baked after seeing it advertised in Daily Messages. He admits to entering the club a novice baker, his only prior experience consisting of cracking eggs for chocolate chip cookies. Shields now considers baking one of his favorite hobbies. “[At my first meeting,] members were all around the table baking, and they were like, ‘here’s a recipe,’ and shoved a piece of paper in my face. I’ve been coming ever since,” Shields said.
In addition to helping Shields cultivate a love for baking, Get Baked has also come to be an important community on campus for him. “It’s always a nice reunion because we don’t see each other much otherwise, but when we get to see each other here, we have a lot of fun for six hours just throwing stuff in bowls and seeing what comes out on the table,” he said.
Although the food made by Get Baked is delectable, the club is more process than product-oriented. “If there’s something people don’t know about the club, it’s the people behind it and the family it forms,” Gancayo said. “The reason I do it is because it’s so fun to see how baking can bring people together. It’s such a warm experience.”