Baked with love

managing editor

This aspiring FBI agent has a passion for baking.  

SE student and criminal justice major Emily Harbaugh was exposed to baking early in life. Her mother, Heather Harbaugh, wanted to be more conscious of the food she was giving her kids, so she started baking her own bread.  

Very quickly, Heather took note that Emily liked to be independent in the kitchen. 

“She has never really liked much instruction as a kid,” Heather said. “[I gave] her space to explore.” 

When she was 10, Emily and her best friend began selling cupcakes to her mom’s friends and neighbors. When she was 12, one of her customers reached out to ask if she could bake macarons for her wedding.  

Since then, she has baked for several more weddings and events, like birthday parties. Her biggest order to date: 250 desserts. In terms of the difficulty of events, weddings take the cake. Brides can be crazy, Emily said. 

“It’s hard, which is why I’ve only done it for friends,” she said. “There’s an understanding of I’m still learning, and they have an understanding too. I do want to start selling to people or doing weddings for people that aren’t friends. I love [weddings] because every bride is different. So, I get to do something very specific, and it’s different than what I’ve ever done before.” 

Being homeschooled allowed her to nurture her passion for baking, she said. In her junior year, her mom decided to sign her up for dual credit classes at TCC. There, she decided to take a culinary class to see if it was worth pursuing. 

“I fell in love like, this is what I’m doing,” Emily said. 

She took strictly culinary classes her entire senior year. Harbaugh was enrolled in SE culinary instructor Allison Hodges’ classes. Hodges quickly became “more than just an instructor” to her. 

“She definitely has a natural talent for it and always has,” Hodges said. “Some of her early cakes were very, very good.”  

She is a joy to have in class, Hodges said. 

“She has such a great personality,” she said. “She is always bubbly, always eager to learn. That is the type of student you are always looking for.” 

  In addition to her side business, Emily works 45 hours a week at La Madeline, is a full-time student, Student Government Association secretary and still manages to get eight hours of sleep every night. She doesn’t know where the time comes from. Heather accredits it to the fact that Emily only does things she loves. 

“Whatever she is passionate about, it gets done,” Heather said. “If it didn’t interest her, she wouldn’t be able to do it.” 

Emily hopes after she feels fulfilled in her career that she will open a bakery or an Italian restaurant. Baking is more than just a hobby, it’s a passion she said. 

“There’s love for what I make,” Emily said. “I do think that when I make something that I don’t like to make, it will never turn out as good as something that I do later to me, if that makes sense.”