We had an amazing experience at our special “Science Takes the Cake” workshop! Thanks to a generous Westchester Library System STEM mini-grant, we were able to offer fifteen children (and several seniors) the chance to learn all about the science of cake baking and decorating. Yes, I did say science!!
The focus on day one was food safety. Julie Bentley, R.N., taught us all about being safe, and hygienic, in the kitchen.
We discussed how to prevent – and deal with – burns, cuts, and kitchen fires. We particularly enjoyed talking about germs, and even used a black light to see all the places that germs like to hide. How cool is that?!
Dr. Helen Pashley talked us through the basics of cake making and decorating, and then we all got busy creating designs. We worked in groups brainstorming, and then sketching out plans, for our cakes.
Our next task: baking the cakes. There was a lot of math involved since we had to figure out how much of each ingredient, and how much total batter we needed for the four layers each group had to make!
Dr. Pashley showed us samples of roses, daisies, calla lilies, pansies, and a variety of other flowers – all created with gum paste. Then we got to practice making them ourselves – using templates and a special ball tool (we even created stamens and sepals!).
We learned how to use a professional cake leveler to level each layer of the cake and discussed why that was important structurally. We also learned to use a special roll and cut mat, with a circular grid, to roll out a fondant circle large enough to cover each cake.
It took a lot of measuring, calculating and good old creativity to put together these cakes. We worked really, really hard!
Of course, there were moments of levity, too.
And boy, oh boy, was all that work and fun ever worth it! Aren’t these cakes incredible?!
Here’s a group shot with our finished works of art (and science!): The icing on the cake? We shared our beautiful creations with members of the Peekskill Senior Center at their monthly Birthday Celebration!
Huge thanks to our fabulous instructors: Dr. Helen Pashley and Julie Bentley, R.N. Special thanks to our helpful helper Lorraine! Thank you to Westchester Library System for the grant that made this program possible. And thanks to Bruni and all our wonderful friends from the Peekskill Senior Center, the Senior Nutrition Center, and the stellar staff of The Field Library! Oh, and of course, a special shout out to all of our participants for making this such a successful program!