The Bakers Dozen is a nonprofit group of baking professionals and enthusiasts gathering to exchange information in a quest for knowledge
Bakers Dozen originated in California, where cookbook author Marion Cunningham and then-bakery-owner Amy Pressman often met after Marion had been teaching near Amy's bakery in Venice California. While the conversation often centered on the pleasures of baking, it also often turned to puzzlements, such as why meringue some times wept or shrank; why ten people could prepare the same recipe and produce ten different textures, sizes and flavors; why a cake batter curdled sometimes, but not other times; or how to bring back melted chocolate that turned solid when a few drops of moisture fell in. It occurred to Marion and Amy that they learned so much from each other's experiences that it would be great to share them and learn from others. Bakers Dozen grew from these thoughts.
The first meeting, in 1989 at San Francisco's Mandarin Oriental Hotel, was about that age-old problem: meringue that weeps or shrinks. Everyone brought a lemon meringue pie. The pies were examined and tasted, meringue proportions and quality discussed and solutions were offered. But, as the meeting progressed, more baking questions cropped up, many totally unrelated to meringue. It quickly became clear that participants saw a great opportunity to discuss baking problems with other bakers and they expressed a strong desire for further programs of this kind. From this beginning, a more cohesive organization formed. Everyone agreed that it was to be laid-back – no chairman, committees or newsletter. There should be just four meetings a year, one of which would be a field trip. Bakers Dozen flourished.
In 2001, The Baker's Dozen Cookbook was published, produced by some of the most respected bakers in the Bay Area: Flo Braker, John Phillip Carroll, Julia B. Cookenboo, Marion Cunningham, Carol Field, Fran Gage, David Lebovitz, Alice Medrich, Robert Morocco, Peter Reinhart, Lindsey Remolif Shere, Kathleen Stewart and Carolyn Beth Weil. Further recipes and hours of testing time were also contributed by passionate and devoted home bakers, who are valued members of Bakers Dozen.
The group continues its initial focus of sharing information, still meeting four times a year, sometimes bringing baked goods around a theme to a meeting, other times welcoming traveling bakers with new cookbooks, and venturing into the community to visit a new bakery or orchard once a year. Many members of the group have stepped forward, joining the founding thirteen, to offer their expertise and enthusiasm. Bakers Dozen remains as fresh as it was at that first meeting many years ago.