An 8-year-old California boy who loves to bake is cooking up big plans for his family, one confection at a time.
Fresno resident Jalen Bailey runs a home-based bakery, where he creates and sells cookies, bread, muffins and tarts in hopes of earning enough money to buy a house for himself and his mom, Sharhonda Mahan.
This summer, when other kids his age are in swimsuits at the pool, Bailey is wearing his apron, hard at work in the kitchen. Instead of running around a ball field, Bailey is running a hand mixer, whipping up fresh batches of yummy treats.
“I just love to bake,” he tells PEOPLE. “It’s fun!”
Especially when there is a goal to pursue.
“I want to buy a house with a pool and a big back yard and a kitchen so me and my momma can bake and make memories.”
Bailey and his mom, a single parent, live in a small rental house. While still a pre-schooler, Bailey got started in baking by helping his mom during gift-giving season.
“I used to bake sweet potato pies to get extra money for the holidays,” says Mahan, 30, a nanny. “He was always in the kitchen, asking if he could help.”
“I didn’t do it well at all,” Bailey says. “It took me 10 minutes to cut one sweet potato.”
Eventually, though, Bailey got the knack not only for peeling, but also for cracking eggs, measuring ingredients, reading aloud the instructions to his mom, and running the mixer.
“It got to where he could make his first peanut butter cookies all by himself,” Mahan says. “He said, ‘Mom, I got this. I don’t need any help.’ ”
Before long, Bailey was baking up a storm – and cooking up ideas.
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SOURCE: PEOPLE, Susan Keating