#14 takes a whirl
The percussive click of the whisk against the stainless-steel mixing bowl harmonized with the wax and wane of the gas ovens. The aroma of baking cinnamon, the vision of glistening fruit tarts, the touch of warm dough was all the solace Sophie needed in the hour or so before dawn.
She watched as egg whites, vanilla, and sugar morphed from gelatinous flatlands to thickened, fluffy peaks. Squeezing droplets of red-dye-number-forty, she watched them turn a lovely shade of pink; a much more attractive accompaniment to a cup of Earl Gray Tea. She began spooning the mixture into a pastry bag, careful not to let any drip onto her workspace.
Shape the meringues onto greased cookie sheets, one inch apart. Bake in a slow oven for fifteen minutes, then turn temperature off and let meringues cool in oven so they may crisp.
She gathered her hands in the front of her apron, wiping them as she counted the loaves of bread already cooling on the sideboard: Cinnamon swirl, honey oatmeal, whole-grain wheat, Colonial, Italian, and crusty French baguettes. With her forearm, she pushed a stray wisp of hair back among the strands gathered in a twist, considering whether to bake more of the baguettes. Sophie bargained that French Roast and warm buttered bread wafting through the kitchen vents would soften the resistance of even the most stolid New Englander on this first real day of winter, and so began greasing the pans again. As cold as it was, she imagined many of her customers would be making a hearty stew for dinner and would need a fresh heel of crusty bread to sop the gravy. Her mind wandered to her patrons as her fingers prodded the dough.
gathered her hands?
You don't gather hands, even as a metaphor, it doesn't make sense.
This is an effluvia of words. We've got someone cooking in the kitchen before dawn. You've used 286 words to tell me she's making meringues. You're describing things without telling us anything about them other than what they look like. It's wordy and flat.
We need something to catch our attention here.
You've used the word solace but we don't FEEL anything from her. Use your verbs and adverbs to show emotion. You don't need many; a few well chosen ones will communicate volumes.
Sorry but this would be a definite pass for me.