Baking has been one of Debbie Zuke’s hobbies for a while. This year, the Administrative Assistant decided to combine her hobby and her job.
Debbie started running cookie drawings for her co-workers with themes attached to each drawing. She did one for the Super Bowl in February and did one this month commemorating the start of the Major League Baseball season.
“I just started doing them for fun,” Debbie said. “I like baking cookies, I put them out there to get people to participate and I just get a lot of self-fulfillment out of that.”
Debbie started out by taking classes on decorating cakes 20 years ago. She said she eventually gravitated toward cookies and they’ve become her specialty. She does everything from scratch, including making her own dough.
“I like the creative process, especially with cookies,” she said. “When I look at a cookie, I find it very inspiring to start from scratch – a blank canvas and develop it from there."
“I think I like cookies for the simple reason that they’re manageable, smaller, and can be handled and transported better than a cake.”
Outside of work, Debbie has found plenty of success in various baking competitions. She finished first in the Dallas Morning News Central Market Holiday Cookie Contest in the Decorated category last December.
“When I first started competing, there were local cake clubs that would set up cake competitions and I would enter them and have won quite a few ribbons,” she said. “And then I started noticing people in the cookie decorating field were starting to have competitions too, so I entered those.”
The first cake she ever entered into a sculpting competition was a beehive cake, complete with basket weave decorations on the outside, handmade morning glories down the side and bees.
Debbie said her baking has transitioned into more than a hobby and she’ll take cookie orders when requested. With the success she’s had with it, Debbie said she’s thought about expanding her baking past work and competitions.
“Several years ago, the Texas Legislature passed the [Cottage Food Law], which allows home bakers to bake and sell their products,” she said. “You set up your business by meeting a few requirements and go from there. But it would have to be small-scale if I considered something because it is a timely process, as far as decorating cookies. A dozen may take several days to complete.”
As for now, if Debbie doesn’t have any orders to fulfill, she said she spends her week practicing different techniques.
“There’s YouTube videos and also Periscope that I watch,” Debbie said. “I watch Periscope because there are designers who do live broadcasts of mini-tutorials. So it’s pretty neat."