Students find self-expression in culinary creativity
By Kelly Benning, Staff Reporter
Despite their busy schedules, many students have turned to the creation of home-made baked goods as a stress-reliever and a way to bring happiness to their family and friends.
Junior Jenny Liu, whose elaborately decorated cupcakes are often sold at bake sales at Conestoga, sets aside about six hours to bake and ice a single batch of cupcakes despite an extremely busy schedule.
“I just love being able to see people smile because they enjoy them,” Liu said.
Liu’s friend and fellow baker, junior Annika Ritz, also dedicates hours at a time to her craft. Her specialty is making fondant cakes. Fondant is a type of icing with a distinct marshmallow flavor that can be rolled out into sheets, and is extremely complicated both to make and use. With practice, Ritz has improved her fondant skills. The recipe originally took her two days to make.
“Recently I’ve cut down my time for making a fondant cake,” Ritz said. “It usually takes me five hours plus cooling time, which usually takes about two hours.”
The most complex recipe Ritz has ever attempted is crème brûlée, a French custard dish with a burnt sugar crust on top, which can take three days to make.
“I failed at making crème brûlée so many times,” Ritz said. “But once I got it right it was pretty cool, especially when I can share it with friends and family and they say it tastes amazing.”
Freshman Roni Glasthal loves sharing her creations as well. A self-professed kitchen perfectionist, Glasthal said she prefers to cook and bake for others rather than herself.
While the desire to share their confections seems to be a common attribute among bakers, Glasthal’s inspiration for her creations sets her apart from the crowd. Glasthal likes to fall asleep listening to her iPod, which then often serves as her culinary inspiration.
“Whenever I wake up, whatever song is playing, I listen through the whole thing five times and then I’ll make a dish inspired by it,” Glasthal said.
Recently, she employed this method to create Pop Rock Cupcakes, inspired by the popular LMFAO song “Party Rock Anthem.”
Glasthal said that, originally, the most complicated thing she had ever made were truffles, which usually take anywhere from four to six hours to make, but she has recently encountered a difficult new recipe.
“Unicorn horns, my own creation, [are the most difficult],” Glasthal said. “It’s a sugar ice cream cone filled with a cupcake and frosted.”
Junior J.P. Walsh, whose chocolate chip cake is popular among his friends and family, manages to find free time to work on his baking skills.
Baking is “good for stress management. I just put on some of my favorite music, and it’s a way to isolate myself and get myself away from whatever’s stressing me out,” Walsh said. “I don’t know what appeals to me more: the final product or the process.”
Being a baker involves making mistakes and reworking recipes until they are finally just right.
“I would try out recipes and half the time they wouldn’t work out,” Ritz said. “I put too much baking soda in a batch of cookies once and ever since I’ve been able to tell which cookies have too much baking soda in them. You learn from your past failures. When you have failures and then you have a success it makes it even more special.”
Despite the occasional batch that goes awry, these students have taken the missteps in stride and find baking to be a relaxing hobby.
“When I start to make a cake it kind of calms me down,” Ritz said. “I really like doing it because it helps me step away from everything that’s going on in the world and all the craziness of school. It’s kind of therapeutic.”
Kelly Benning can be reached at email@example.com.