Tribute to The Queen of all Daring Bakers, Lis

baked pretzel


Occasionally, if you are lucky in life, as I am, you meet someone whose unique qualities create a whole new color in the crayon box of your life. Lisa Cifelli was that sort of a person for me. Her humor, kindness and humanity were amazing. She could also swear you into a whole new dictionary- which, I think, made me love her even more. 🙂

Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice co-founded the Daring Bakers (which eventually expanded and morphed into Daring Kitchen) in November of 2006 more on that here. They challenged each other to make a Hot Buttered Pretzel recipe and then post about it, and the rest, as they say, is history folks . After that they invited a small circle of bloggers to join them and soon all the rest of us were begging to be let into the group. I became a member of Daring Bakers in September of 2007 with the Cinnamon/Sticky Bun challenge.  I came for the baking and walked away with a whole new group of friends. Some of the people I still love and admire most are those I met through DB. My most reposted picture is my Mikado light opera cake from the opera cake challenge. So yes, Lisa and Ivonne and all the other DBs changed my life. Eventually the group got too big for me and I moved on, but I will always have wonderful memories of those days.


Now I’m not saying I was one of Lis’s best friends – I was way out on the edge of her orbit, but she was a blogging friend and she also got me started in Farmville on Facebook. She was always sending me virtual gifts… fruit trees, cows, barns, countries. I finally had to just stop or I would have been required to participate in farm subsidies. 🙂 Ok I might exaggerate a bit. BUT she always showed up with a bit of love and support when I needed it- always ending her messages with numerous xxxoooxxxoooxxs. I will always love that about her!

Here is a message she left on the cheesecake challenge for me- one I will always cherish: (I made what I called Bee-Bop Cheesecake Pops.)


  • Lisa says: 2008/04/27 at 11:31

    You did not just make wee bubblebees out of the cheesecake!  YOU DID!!  I heart them so very muchly!!!

    Okay so far.. you win most creative use of cheesecake, chocolate coating and lemon drops. :D



 Lisa says:
2008/04/27 at 11:32
or some (normal) people call them BUMBLEbees.. not BUBBLEbees.. *sigh*

Earlier this week, as I read the note from my friend Kelly at Sass and Veracity telling us that Lis had passed away unexpectedly that morning, the tears came rushing out in a torment. I could not make any sense of it all. I cry all over again every time I think of it. How could someone as vital and wonderful as Lis be gone?! Hadn’t she just had a birthday? Hadn’t she just sent me kind words of love and support when my mother-in-law passed away on  November 1st? Why was I not a better friend to her? How do you lose a color out of your crayon box and still paint the world the same way? Truth is you can’t. I will never see life the same way both because I was lucky enough to know Lis in this crazy new world of internet friendships and because we suffered her loss together redrawing us all back into the community we once were. Daring Bakers forever.

And so today in tribute, I baked the pretzels that started it all. (recipe here) and I listened to her beloved Cher and to AC/DC and I mourned the missing color of Lisa’s brilliance.

mise en place


pretzel dough

dough divided    wash and saltprebake

baked pretzel


  1. Joanne T Ferguson says:

    G’day! Lovely tribute and photos!
    It is bittersweet to read all of these wonderful tributes to Lis, shared one and feel glad and sad through each one!
    Cheers! Joanne

  2. Gabi says:

    Thanks Andrea- I really do miss those times. I was glad to meet so many wonderful people through DBs.

  3. Gabi says:

    Hi Courtney,
    Thanks for your lovely comment. The pretzels were really good- I’m sorry I gave most of them away before I tried one.

  4. Andrea Meyers says:

    Oh, I still remember your Mikado opera cake, so beautiful! And the bubblebees, too! Those were good times. Nicely done on the pretzels, Lis would approve. 🙂

  5. kellypea says:

    I loved this Gabi. I don’t have any of her emails any longer — I’ve been on a few clean up my Mac binges and was ruthless. That makes me sad now, because they really were incredible so I appreciate what you’ve shared. AC/DC & Cher? NICE. Hugs to you.

  6. bellini says:

    The blogging community has lost a very special lady. We all learned so much with a sense of style, humility and humour, always laughter and fun. We may no longer be Daring Bakers but we are still those fledgling bloggers in spirit who rose to every challenge. Thank you Lis.

  7. coco cooks says:

    How did I miss these bubblebees all this time! Ivloved that cake. Was gorgeous.Flashing back again is inspiring me. I need to try these preztles.
    Thanks Gabi for the inspiration.

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