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February 29, 2012

Sweets for the Soul
by Barbara Pope

If you’re looking to enjoy an evening that offers the excitement of eating out with the intimacy of staying in, you may want to sample Barrhaven’s latest Baha’i devotional – a devotional that starts with dessert. Holly Robertson describes a prayer circle at her home as an opportunity to reconnect; “It’s a chance for people to slow down the pace of their lives in a world that’s going so fast.”

Since opening a bakery thirty years ago in Fall River, Nova Scotia, Holly has shared her passion for creating sweets with her community.  After moving to Ottawa and working for Bronson Bakery, she specialized in baking custom pastries for local shops, restaurants, and hotels. Now that she’s retired, her faith community and neighbours still benefit from her skills. It is this enthusiasm for food and her love for socializing that fuels her monthly get-togethers.

A typical evening at her baking devotional begins in the kitchen where visitors are introduced to the ingredients and equipment they’ll be using. After reviewing the recipe, guests take turns at tasks; measuring, stirring, and decorating. The steps of baking as well as food presentation are taught and allergies or health concerns are easily accommodated, by offering substitute ingredients that are dairy or gluten free. One woman who attends regularly says she comes for the fun in the kitchen. “It’s an opportunity to get to know people in a way you usually don’t. The atmosphere is so laid back.”

As desserts bake and the oven warms the home, prayers begin to warm peoples’ hearts. Guests gather in the living room to say prayers on various themes, such as healing prayers for those who may be experiencing a difficult time in their life. Once the timer rings, coffee and tea are served while people enjoy sampling the dessert they helped to bake. Some of the recipes Holly’s already introduced have been black forest cake, cream puffs, and chocolate éclairs, with the most popular being crème brûlée. Next on the menu is cinnamon torte!

Just as imitation vanilla is no substitute for the real, Holly believes that nothing substitutes connecting in person with one another.
Chocolate Eclairs

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