The sweetest way to be charitable

October 9, 2020

Giving back to the Brandeis community just got a whole lot sweeter! Lydia Begag ’22 has created an easy and delicious way to help out fellow Brandeisians with her new baking business that delivers. Found at @thatbitchbaking on Instagram, Begag is raising money for the Brandeis Mutual Aid Fund by donating 50 percent of proceeds from her sales. In her first two weeks, she has already donated almost $200 to the fund! 

Begag loves to bake and, like many, started baking a lot more during the lockdown of the coronavirus pandemic. In an interview with The Brandeis Hoot, she said that the Instagram account started out as a total joke. Begag said that she had been baking excessively for her four roommates, when one of them suggested that she make an Instagram account to show off her skills. Camila Martinez ’22 then set up the account. However, Martinez quickly realized the potential here to earn some money and do some good, according to a Sept. 23 post from @thatbitchbaking. 

The introductory “about us” post reads, “[Martinez] saw the potential in what could be a booming female-led and owned bakery. One that was real. One that was transparent. One that embraced both domesticity and bad bitch energy. Turning the concept on its head to reclaim it. This is what we’re all about.” The system of the bakery is described as “dough to delivery,” with Begag both making the treat and bringing it right to your door. 

Begag has certainly embraced this concept and the community is responding well to it. In the first week alone, she had about 14 orders, she told The Hoot. Begag mentioned that she expected the orders to only come from her close friends, so she is pleasantly surprised at the response from Brandeisians she doesn’t know. But she enjoys the process, calling it “intimate and personal.” She said that there is a lot of one-on-one communication with every order to set up delivery times and to ask about allergies. 

According to a post on the Instagram page bio, vegan and gluten free baked goods are available. Begag offers six different types of baked goods: cookies, breads, pies/cobblers, pastries, cakes and tarts. Each good is listed at a different price between 12 and 25 dollars. For a 15 percent discount, customers can donate a “baking item” during delivery.  Pricing details and information about baked good flavors can be found in Instagram posts from late September.

Begag said that her current favorite thing to bake was her flourless chocolate cake, which, coincidentally, is a very popular order. She said that the recipe was easy and “called for really, really good quality ingredients,” adding that “baking is something where you get out what you put in.” She boasted of using high quality, natural and organic ingredients in her goods, even if that made them cost a little more. 

Also contributing to the higher than average price tag is the donation aspect. She hoped people would be willing to pay a little extra than what they would pay at the grocery store in order to support a good cause. In the interview, she told The Hoot that she knew she wanted to donate part of the proceeds from her baking and that she was very impressed with the Brandeis Mutual Aid Fund. She cited their impact during the coronavirus crisis and large response they had gotten as reasons for this reaction. She noticed that when summer ended, activism of Brandeis students seemed to dwindle, so she wanted to help rejuvenate it. “It’s easy to be disheartened by a lack of mobilization,” she said, which is why she wanted to “bring in something that is directly benefiting the community.” She hopes to “foster something new through a shared love of eating and baked goods.” 

Begag is also very aware of the pandemic as she is baking. She made clear that she is taking many precautions to make sure that everyone stays healthy. Though she shares the kitchen with her four roommates, Begag is the only person in the kitchen when baking to fulfill orders. Additionally she said that all five get tested twice a week at Brandeis and are complying with current social distancing standards and wear masks in public spaces—including when delivering orders to customers. She mentioned that if she, or any of her roommates, tested positive, orders would be suspended so as not to infect anyone. She also stated that she wears gloves, never uses dirty dishes, sanitizes cooking surfaces and uses sterile packaging. 

Those interested in ordering should do so sooner rather than later. The Instagram account’s bio says that Begag is already booked through Oct. 12. She told The Hoot that she has five orders to make this weekend and that she would do more if she wasn’t so busy with her courses. Order forms can be found in the bio of @thatbitchbaking on Instagram. To paraphrase the announcement Instagram post: these are calories for a cause! 

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