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The Sweeter the Better: Creating a Celebration

The Sweeter the Better: Creating a Celebration

Story by CYNTHIA MCFARLAND | Photo by LISA ANDERSON

Baking built a sweet foundation for Lynn Kandler’s life. The oldest of six children growing up in Ashland, Wisconsin, Lynn learned to cook and bake alongside her mother and grandmothers. “I learned to bake at a very young age, baking my first batch of cookies when I was six,” relates Lynn, whose white bread won a blue ribbon in a 4-H competition a few years later. “My mom was in a homemaker’s club and every time she came home from a class, she’d show me what they were doing.” 

Lynn was in her early teens when her mother shared the basics of her cake decorating class, lessons that would play a pivotal role later in life. She decorated cakes for family and friends, after she graduated high school and moved to Seattle. Upon moving back to her home state in the early Eighties, she was working in a grocery store deli when their bakery needed a cake decorator. She became skilled at all aspects of decorating, including airbrushing scenes on cakes, a talent no doubt enhanced by many years of drawing as a child.

I just love creating a celebration, and when you make the cake for a party, it’s the centerpiece of a celebration.

— Lynn Kandler

“I just love creating a celebration, and when you make the cake for a party, it’s the centerpiece of a celebration,” says Lynn. She went on to work as a commercial cake decorator for nearly a decade.

After her husband passed away in 2003, Lynn decided not to go back to the cake decorating job. She managed an appliance store for several years before returning to her “comfort zone” of baking. From 2008 to 2011, Lynn ran The Cookie Jar, a coffee shop in Mason, Wisconsin, where she was known for her delectable sweet rolls, over-sized cookies, and Swedish tea rings. 

For someone whose life literally revolved around sweets, being diagnosed as diabetic at age 47 was startling. “I don’t really bake for myself any more. I’m a very traditionalist baker and use a lot of sugar, but you can’t have that every day,” says Lynn, now 67. “I still eat my favorites every once in a while; that’s what holidays are for.”

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Decades of baking inspired an expansive kitchenware collection: from cookbooks and cookie jars to cookie cutters, aprons, canning equipment, and more, with most finds scored in thrift stores. “I could probably furnish four or five kitchens with my collections from over the years,” she laughs. 

Much has changed in the kitchen since she first started baking. Lynn appreciates the option of nut flours for gluten-free baking and applauds the increased education about healthier eating and how food impacts us. 

Lynn relocated to Ocala, Florida, in the spring of 2020, where most of her family lives. She still loves to share her baking talents with her grandsons, nieces, and nephews, but those treats are reserved for special occasions. When Lynn’s chocolate fudge cake with peanut butter frosting is on the cake stand, it is definitely an occasion. 

Read this Story and More in the Holiday Issue:

Cynthia McFarland
Freelance Writer at The Chews Letter | + posts

Cynthia is a full-time freelance writer and author of nine non-fiction books. Cherished recipes and foods are woven through her favorite memories.

Find her stories in our magazines!

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