There are a lot of things I inherited from my mom: the ability to smell when something in the oven is just about to burn; the belief that recipes are inspiration rather than rule books; and a love of collecting cookbooks and tattered recipes. Some of these things I come by naturally but others come from spending hours in the kitchen with her. Time spent with someone you love and look up to — especially if that’s your mom — is truly invaluable.
In honor of Mother’s Day, we’re sharing fond memories of baking with our moms — silly stories to make you smile and sincere recollections to warm your hearts.
Many King Arthur employee-owners have stories that start in the kitchen. Folks from across the company shared their favorite memories and cherished moments spent together around the oven. As an ode to baking with mom, let’s hear those stories.
I’m up first.
I’m not lying when I say that my mom was ahead of the high-quality-pizza-at-home trend. Really, she had a baking stone and wooden pizza peel before you could order them online or find them at yard sales.
When it was pizza night, we’d use every inch of our giant stainless steel island for the pizza production process. There were bowls of sauces, cutting boards covered in fresh vegetables, and cast iron pans sizzling with sausage and caramelized onions.
There were always little things my mom did to make her pizza extra-special. I'd watch carefully as she rolled out the dough, moving from the center toward the edges. She’d brush the crust with a bit of garlic-infused olive oil before baking, and use homemade pesto or fresh local tomatoes as a base.
My mom made sure that the perfectly cooked pizzas went straight to wire racks to prevent the bottoms from getting soggy. They were cooled enough so that the cheese was no longer molten but still hot enough to please my dad.
(My dad was even pleased with the buffalo “chicken” pizza my mom and I discreetly assembled one time. He exclaimed, "Wow, that’s good, Sal!" as he took a bite of the secretly tofu-topped pizza. My mom and I snuck a quick glance at each other and tried not to grin.)
It took a few years of reckless pizza-making on my own before realizing that Mom’s way was best: the pizza dough must be carefully kneaded and cared for; the sauces and toppings should be fresh; you must plan your flavor combinations before you even begin; and never walk away when your pizza is almost done cooking. Most importantly, make and share pizza with those you love. It’ll always taste the best.
Molly is a recipe tester and a member of the Innovation Team; a true baker at heart.
My mom isn’t a baker. I don’t have a box of family recipes that were passed down to me from earlier generations. I don’t have endless memories of helping in the kitchen when I was a kid, but what I do have is a mom who has always believed in family, love, and magic.
No matter what she was making to feed our family — broccoli tempura, goulash, Irish soda bread, or peanut butter cookies — I remember mom always sneaking into the spice cabinet, reaching for a small, flowered tin and sprinkling a dash of her secret ingredient into everything she made.
My childlike curiosity was no match for mom’s determination to keep her secret ingredient just that — a secret! It wasn’t until I was much older, and taller, that I was able to reach into said spice cabinet and raise the curtain on this magical tin. It was empty inside, with a small handwritten note that said, “To everything you make add a dash of love.”
To this day, the tin remains in mom’s kitchen and it’s one of the best baking lessons I’ve ever learned. It doesn’t matter what you’re baking: don’t forget that dash of love — you really can taste it.
Susan is a senior recipe tester and passionate chef, food editor, and writer.
My grandmother was a great cook but didn’t like having her kids in the kitchen, so my mom had to pretty much teach herself. She resolved that her own children would grow up having some kitchen literacy, and we began our culinary journeys making boxed brownie mixes before graduating to "Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook," which I still use today.
My favorite thing to make from it was Hot Fudge Pudding, which is one of the ancestors of our Fudge Pudding Cake recipe online. The miracle of the cocoa/sugar mixture migrating from the top of the cake to the bottom never ceased to amaze and delight.
I don’t think my mom ever envisioned my brownie-making as the catalyst for a career as a chef, but as I kept going in the kitchen, I was eventually drafted to make appetizer courses for the dinner parties my parents used to give — and the seed was sown.
Sometimes I make recipes for her that she made for us growing up that she’d forgotten about; it’s really fun to close that circle.
My mother's patience with us and determination that we be competent to feed ourselves is one of the infinite gifts she gave us.
Frank is a research and development specialist and a member of the Innovation Team.
When I was 10, my mom let me help when she made empanadas for the first time. Cinnamon and chili powder? Ground beef and raisins? Then bake them like a turnover? I was completely confused. Individually all these ingredients made sense, but all together? I wasn't so sure.
Over the next hour or so she walked me through the recipe, explaining where it came from and the traditions of each spice we used. I think we tasted the filling mixture after every addition, and we split a hot empanada when they came out of the oven. It’s an afternoon I’ll never forget.
The next day, our homemade empanadas were a hit on the New Year’s buffet.
Here are some King Arthur recipes that remind me of our creations: Chicken and Apple Empanadas, Goat Cheese and Portobello Empanaditas, Samosas with Quick Flaky Pastry, Spicy Samosas with Tamarind-Date Chutney, and last but not least, Cornish Pasties.
PJ is a senior recipe editor, blog contributor, and the "keeper" of the recipe site.
My mom had a set of nesting Pyrex bowls: green, yellow, red, and blue. Once a week, she’d reach up to the kitchen shelf where the bowls were kept and fetch down the green one — which meant it was time to make cookies. The type varied by week: chocolate chip for Dad; oatmeal-raisin for my little sister, Meagan; sugar cookies for my big brother, Mike; and peanut butter cookies for me.
Peanut butter was definitely my favorite cookie. I recall scooping up fingerfuls of the thick, sticky peanut butter and brown sugar mixture mom always started with, ducking under the table (so no one would see), and allowing it to dissolve slowly, blissfully, on my tongue.
One week Mom accidentally dropped the bowl of peanut butter cookie dough. It hit the edge of the stove and shattered, cutting Meagan’s knee badly enough that the cookie-making paused for a trip to the hospital: quite dramatic!
To this day, whenever I bake peanut butter cookies, I find myself wrapped in memories of a little sister with a cut knee — and a green bowl that will forever remind me of Mom’s weekly cookies, and her quiet, steady love.
Chris is our brand content strategist, a crafter, creator, and burgeoning baker.
When I was a kid, I was certain that my mom invented Snickerdoodles. Think about it: Who else could come up with such a delightfully wackadoodle name? And that’s just exhibit A. Her cinnamon-sugar fingerprints are all over this cookie. While most moms made sugar cookies, mine always added a little extra spice to life. As a single mother, she would stay up all night sewing costumes and creating toys — why wouldn’t she design a cookie just for me?
She knew I wanted a crispy outside and pillowy inside. She knew the name tickled me, not to mention the nonsense ingredients like a white powder named “cream of tartar.” And she knew just when to brighten my day by pulling another batch out of the oven. No wonder Snickerdoodles were the first recipe she shared with my wife — and who knows, maybe my daughter will grow up thinking Grandma invented this wonderful cookie just for her.
Love for all the moms
From the bottom of our big, collective King Arthur heart, thank you to the moms who work so hard to make others smile, learn, and grow, especially in the kitchen.
We hope you'll join us in spreading joy and sharing love through baking this Mother's Day weekend and beyond. Happy Mother's Day and happy baking!
Thanks to the employee-owners who contributed their stories and photos to this post.