Katelyn Hosseini provides behind-the-scenes look at holiday-fueled Tollgate Inn Bakery

POST PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - Katelyn Hosseini, 28, has worked as a lead baker at Tollgate Inn Bakery for 10 years.When it comes to Valentine's Day, there are three schools of thought for gifts — something sparkly, something fragrant or something sweet.

At Tollgate Inn Bakery, 38050 Highway 26, Sandy, the bakers encourage the latter by providing dozens upon dozens of heart-decorated cookies, pink and red cupcakes, and of course chocolate-covered strawberries.

Katelyn Hosseini, one of the lead bakers at Tollgate, has created these sweet treats for 10 years. Baking for Tollgate was her first internship, then her first job out of college and now a true passion.

The appeal? The family atmosphere. For Hosseini, baking has always been associated with family, so it's fitting that she works for brothers Ron and Jim Lesowski and their sons at their very family-oriented confectionery. She looked at other bakeries when searching for a place to intern, but the "customer service (at Tollgate) was awesome, and I felt welcomed."

"I do love that it's family owned," she said. "I feel like it's not as (strict) as a corporation."

Hosseini learned to bake while being homeschooled by her mother in Gresham, an experience to which she credits her skills and early-on knowledge of her field.

"I was in a homeschool group, and we did tours of a lot of places," Hosseini said. "I was able to explore a lot more aspects of not just baking, but other (fields)."

POST PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN  - Hosseini said the bakers at Tollgate Inn Bakery probably dip 24 to 40 dozen strawberries for Valentine's Day every year. Though she has a degree from the former Western Culinary Institute (now Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts) in Portland, she says there are just a few things that taste better when her mom makes them.

"My mom (and I) around Christmastime, we always bake sugar cookies," she said. "I'm able to make them, but it's always better somehow when she bakes them."

Hosseini went into baking as a career rather spur of the moment. Baking was what she knew, and now it's what she loves.

"I never saw myself as a creative person with drawing and things like that," Hosseini said. "But with baking, I did. There's (variety), cookies and cupcakes."

From her experience working at Tollgate, Hosseini has come to appreciate the fast-paced quality of her work, especially during the holidays.

It almost doesn't matter to her that a large percentage of the orders that come in for Valentine's Day are last-minute pleas from tardy beaus. She loves the mass production process.

POST PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - Hosseini finishes off some cupcakes with a festive flair by adding a drizzle of chocolate and candy hearts. Ron and Jim Lesowski even let Hosseini use the bakery on her own time to bake her own wedding cake. She simply clocked off, baked the cake, paid for it and took it home.

Though she doesn't bake much at home because she does it all day at work, Hosseini enjoys being around her work family on days like Valentine's Day where she knows her employers care for her. Then when she goes home, she gets to take a break from flour and enjoy a bouquet of flowers from her husband.

"He loves when I come home and smell like the bakery," Hosseini said.

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