Hiram College

Free samples of the Terrier Bakery’s cinnamon sticks will be handed out for its grand opening on Sept. 20, under the Hinsdale Arch.

Freshmen in the First-Year Colloquium “The Art of Making Dough” have only been on campus a few weeks, but they’re already operating like business men and women.

In addition to reading, writing and class discussions that are normally part of a Colloquium, this particular class is operating the Terrier Bakery, the brainchild of their professor Ella Kirk.

Kirk, a foreign language professor, started the bakery over the summer as a trial run, filling orders for faculty and staff. But now that classes have begun, the students have spent the past two and a half weeks learning the art of making bread, and they are getting ready to sell their product to faculty, staff and students, starting on Sept. 20.

The Terrier Bakery is supported by the Center for Integrated Entrepreneurship, which helps fund student-run ventures. The Center’s vision for student-run ventures is that they will be college-owned, faculty-championed, curriculum-connected and student-run.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how much we can handle and how much we can push ourselves,” Kirk said.

For the bakery’s Sept. 20 grand opening, students will be passing out free samples under the Hinsdale Arch from noon to 1 p.m. Every Wednesday following that, they will sell a daily special in the Kennedy Center during lunch hour. Students, faculty and staff can also pre-order any item using an online form any weekday. The bakery promises a range of items for students on the go and faculty who want to bring bread home for their families.

In order to keep up with inventory, students are spending an extra six hours a week in the kitchen, in addition to class time. But they don’t have any complaints about the extra work; in fact, they couldn’t be more excited to contribute.

“It’s rewarding for all of us,” said Anna Borkan ’15. “I don’t think of it as a chore to go to class. I think we all enjoy going to class.”

Borkan decided on this Colloquium because it was hands-on – not because she previously enjoyed cooking or baking.

“I never thought I was capable of making the bread I make,” she said. “I’ve never been one to cook. I’m always the one that bails out at family dinners. But this is really fun.”

Building a sense of appreciation for baking from scratch among students was one of Kirk’s goals in starting the class. But some, like sociology major Josh Turner ’15, were already cooking fanatics.

“(My godmother) is also a very, very good cook,” he said. “Since I was a kid, she’s taught me to cook everything from scratch. That was a reason I wanted to do a baking class.”

With such a wide range of experience among the class, Kirk decided that the best way to teach 18-year-olds how to make bread was to start small.

“Our theory was that we would start out simply, with three formulas, and get really good at those,” she said.

The students admit their first loaves were far less than perfect, but after repeating specific parts of the bread-making process – folding, slashing and spraying the oven – the second loaves came out wonderfully.

Now that they’ve got the basics down, the class, which meets Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, will spend Mondays perfecting the breads they already know how to make, Wednesdays experimenting with new breads and Fridays discussing the business.

And while baking is a large part of the class, it’s not everything. The students are reading books about the history and science of breadmaking, and working on their first writing assignment – an essay about a memory involving bread. In addition to that, the students are becoming true entrepreneurs.

They are divided into the following five smaller groups involving the operation of the bakery, which will rotate throughout the semester:

  • Marketing – Managing and developing publicity for the bakery
  • Production – Deciding how much product to make each day and week, acquiring more ovens for the bakery
  • Maintenance – Managing supply inventory
  • Finance – Keeping track of profits and where the bakery is making and losing money
  • Management – Managing the look and overall operation of the bakery

Borkan, who is part of the marketing group, said she appreciates how much trust Kirk puts in them to carry out these important duties.

“They’re not teaching us to do it, and then redoing it themselves,” she said. “They’re really trusting us to get stuff done. It’s our responsibility.”

The Terrier Bakery students have already formed a strong bond, and see this class as the defining moment of their freshman year.

“I think this is going to be our legacy,” said biology major Connor Dewalt ’15. “Throughout the entire four years that we’re here, I feel like we’ll all still be a part of it.”