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High-stakes baking: Cookie exchanges

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By Tara Kimura, CBCNews.ca

Some years back, I read an article suggesting that women starting their careers should not bring baked goods into the office on the basis that they would not be taken seriously. For better or worse, I've actively chosen to ignore this tip, reasoning that I would never think less of a co-worker who chose to share a batch of cookies or a day-brightening birthday cake.

That's not to say there aren't challenges to baking for your colleagues. Last year, for example, I teamed up with two other colleagues to test a trio of brownie recipes. I eagerly accepted — but later when I pulled a wobbly pan of failed brownies from a water bath, I promised I was done with office baking. A second batch proved successful and I was eager to share the results. (Though I must admit that I played it cool, describing the process as an easy-peasy, piece of cake, ahem.)

Undoubtedly, the stakes are a little higher when sharing baked goods with your colleagues. In fact, there's been somewhat of a backlash against workplace cookie exchanges in recent years. Some bakers warn the swaps can lead to extreme competition as colleagues try to outdo each other, leaving everyone feeling exhausted and inadequate.

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How do you keep your cookie exchanges congenial? Share your tips in the comments section below. (Tara Kimura/CBC)

But, for the past two years, I've participated in a cookie exchange at work and have found it to be the opposite of stressful. Initially some of us admitted we felt a certain degree of trepidation, though I think now we've fallen into a comfortable groove. I think our success is in part related to the ground rules we established early. Anyone can opt out if they feel particularly harried. The circle is small. And each baker brings one dozen cookies to share. Somehow it remains a happy event and I am so very eager to bake for and share with my colleagues.

Do you participate in a cookie exchange? How do you eliminate competition between bakers? Do you bring baking into the office?

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BC Ladybug

There are a few of us that bring cookies and other baking in for all in the office. I have found that it is a great way to help with team building and getting to know your fellow workers. I find when others bring tasty treats it is a boost in my day. Sometimes a little treat puts a smile on our face as we realize that there is more to the world than what we deal with at work everyday. I have found some people use baking as a creative outlet and I am more than willing to share in the fruits of their labour and contribute mine.

Posted December 4, 2008 08:29 PM

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From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.

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Amber Hildebrandt Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.

Andrea Chiu Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.

Tara Kimura Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.

Andree Lau Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).

Jessica Wong Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.

Kevin Yarr Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.

Elizabeth Bridge Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.

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