The comforting aroma of freshly baked bread fills the busy kitchen of Palo Alto High School senior Dean Hall’s home as he takes a fresh sourdough boule out of the oven. Bowls and cooking utensils are spread across the countertop as Hall slices the loaf on a beat-up cutting board, before bundling it into his signature yellow bag. This is how Hall describes his typical baking process.

Back in December, Hall and his sister, Sabrina Hall (Class of `18), started Halls’ Kitchen, a home-based business selling delicious bread, cookies, bagels and more.

The Halls began baking more frequently over the past year of quarantine. Eventually, they decided to put their baking skills to use and make a profit from it.

The Halls have a wide variety of menu items, starting with their most popular item, the sourdough boule ($10). This loaf of bread offers a nice crunch on the outside while the insides are soft and warm. These make perfect slices for grilled cheese, or for a quick and easy buttered toast with a sweet jam.

PRETTY PATTERNS  — A fresh batch of sourdough boules sit out in the sun, each with a different pattern on top of their hard outer crusts. “I love trying out new patterns with the boules, it helps make baking more fun,” Dean Hall said. Photo: Dean Hall

Next up are their chocolate chip cookies ($2 each). These cookies are hard to beat, with their gooey melted chocolate insides and sprinkles of sea salt on top. “What’s better than warm Halls’ Kitchen chocolate chip cookies on a cold rainy day? Not a single thing,” the Halls said in an Instagram caption.

SWEET AND SALTY  — With a sprinkle of sea salt on top, these chocolate chip cookies are ready to be bagged up and delivered. “I make at least a couple dozen orders of cookies per week and usually we’ll have loads of leftovers, which is always great for us,” Dean Hall said. Photo: Dean Hall

The bagels are also a must-have. You can choose from three different flavors: sesame, everything seed or plain. For only $6 for half a dozen, this is quite a deal. Toast them up, spread some cream cheese or peanut butter, and you have yourself a delicious breakfast item or snack.

BOUNTIFUL BAGELS — Poppy seeds, sesame seeds and hints of onion and garlic. Have one for breakfast, and you will be thinking about these bagels all day. “Sabrina and I had so much fun with baking the bagels, they always turned out great,” Dean Hall said. “They’re definitely a fan favorite.” Photo: Dean Hall

While these are their most popular items, the Halls also bake fresh focaccia slices ($5) and hearty gluten-free, vegan granola ($10 per jar).

FOCACCIA FUNTIME — An Italian classic, the focaccia slices are warm and fresh and pair nicely with a small bowl of olive oil. “We usually just make the basic baked goods found in your ordinary bakery, but it was cool to switch it up by bringing focaccia into the mix,” Dean Hall said. Photo: Dean Hall

Over winter break, both of the Halls worked together in baking all of these delicious goods, but since Sabrina Hall is a college student, she returned back to campus after New Year’s. Dean Hall continues to run the show on his own until she returns home.

This side job is time-consuming — challenging Dean Hall who juggles all sorts of activities including baking, baseball and continuing his senior year studies. While it does take a good portion of time out of his days, he says it’s worth it.

“I’ve learned to balance my time well; we came up with a schedule for our bakery which aligns well with my other extracurriculars,” Dean Hall said. “We take in orders from the start of the week to the upcoming Thursday, and throughout the weekend we begin baking and we drive around, delivering the goods.”

More recently, Halls’ Kitchen donated some of their profits to RAINN, an anti-sexual violence organization that supports survivors of sexual assaults nationwide. The Halls decided to donate 100% of the proceeds made for one week to RAINN, and they managed to donate $500 to help this cause.

“It was definitely the most I’ve ever baked. I would definitely donate to RAINN again in a heartbeat,” Dean Hall said.

With this small hobby turning into a booming family business, Dean Hall shows no signs of stopping soon.

“It’s been a load of fun, I’m definitely going to try and continue Halls’ Kitchen over the summer,” Dean Hall said.

But unfortunately for their fans, Dean Hall will be going off to college in the fall. He will continue crafting the perfect sourdough boule, but close down the business which will remain a cherished high school memory.

“It’s been such a fun business to run with my sister, I’m going to miss it in college,” Dean Hall said. “But I’ll know that I had a blast and that I spent my time as a senior at home efficiently.”