BAKE WITH DIGNITY - Learn and Earn
FOR 10 days, noise, heat, grease and sweat mingled together.
The cacophony from the whirring of electrical hand mixers and fans and the buzzing of a relatively new industrial oven, competed with the constant pounding from the MRT works just outside the house numbered 49, Pinggir Zaaba in Taman Tun Dr Ismail.
But it was energy and time well spent as it brought smiles and a sense of accomplishment to the members of Dignity and Services (D&S), an advocacy movement working with and for people with learning disabilities.
From 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. daily, under the supervision of D&S staff and volunteers, they creamed, rolled and baked over 7,000 chocolate, butter and coffee cookies. After they packed and sealed the cookies into boxes, they went on to melt, stir and bake over 152 trays of salted caramel fudge brownies. They repeated the feat of creaming and baking with another 150 orange lemon cakes.

While melting chocolate over a double boiler was a job they were familiar with, it was a new task melting sugar to reach a temperature of 167 degrees Celcius and adding butter and cream into the hot bubbly sugar to caramelise. It demands precise timing and patience. Otherwise, the mixture literally goes up in smoke. Sure enough there were a few batches botched up that had to be thrown away but in the end, all was well.

The bakers who go by the moniker Bake With Dignity, have Ms Teh Lip Kim, Managing Director of Selangor Dredging Bhd to thank for the opportunity to learn and earn.
This is the fourth year SDB has enlisted D&S members to bake cookies and cakes as their year-end gifts to the tenants of Wisma Selangor Dredging in Jalan Ampang.

It is gratifying to see the progress bakers have made and are still making, as they gain mastery in the processes involved to make cookies and cakes. The journey of learning applies equally to the bakers, as well as the staff and volunteers behind Bake With Dignity. Truly a work-in-progress.
It is more than sourcing quality ingredients and developing delectable flavours to attract customers. It is about how to ensure the steps are followed through, taking into account that the learning disability spectrum is broad and varied and, therefore, challenging. That includes people with a diagnosis of slow learning, Down Syndrome and Autism.
Because their motor skills and learning capacity are different and with behavioural issues thrown in the mix, the ultimate quest is getting them to work together.

As the recently concluded baking marathon demonstrated, it can be done. There was no shortage of camaraderie, laughter and blooper. It was most reassuring to see how they watched out for each other when one of them stepped out of line.

Notwithstanding a few hiccups, the deadline was met and we look forward to another year of collaboration with SDB.
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