Bailey’s friend, Ranelle Smith, bakes cakes as a hobby and came to her last year with the idea of having students make creative cake creations. Bailey didn’t get a chance to do the project last year, but when help was offered again this year she jumped at the chance. And she’s glad she did.
“The kids love it,” she said watching the excitement as the third graders learned how to frost a cake then apply their creative decorations. “It’s crazy, it’s messy, but it’s good - really good.”
Students first designed a specialty-themed cake in art class. The winning cake design was chosen by Smith. Students also had to research cake recipes online and find the one they wanted to make. They learned how to write the recipe correctly and understand the baking abbreviations.
Finally, it was time for the one-day extended art class when students would follow their chosen recipes and mix the ingredients. They didn’t actually bake their cake mixtures because of the time needed. Instead, their batter was set aside for baking later. Smith and Bailey had pre-made cakes ready for frosting and decorations.
Then the creativity of decorating the cake to match the chosen design began.
Smith was covered in flour by the end of the day after helping four third-grade classes make their cake creations. “For a lot of these kids, this may be the only time they get to learn to bake a cake or frost one. It’s just so much fun.”
She showed students how she used her frosting piping bag and large bench scraper to smooth the frosting over the cake surface. She placed another layer on top and smoothed more frosting so the two cakes looked like one big cake. But there were still two smaller tops to add.
“How are we going to make sure they don’t fall off?” she asked students.
Then she showed them her trick. She had students place three long wooden dowels into the large cake base with just the tips sticking up to attach to the two smaller layers on top.
She used the piping bag again and generously applied small even dollops all along the bottom edge of the two top layers. Using the back edge of a spatula, she showed students how to gently smooth the dollop up and out to make them look more like scales for an undersea cake. Then she gave each one a turn.
The cake was starting to take shape, but it needed some decorations as finishing touches.
Students rolled out colored fondant - a thick paste almost like dough made of sugar and water used for icing and decorations on cakes. They pressed the fondant into molds or cut out their own designs to add to the cake - pink sea shells and green sea turtles for the ocean-themed cake; rainbows and hearts for the unicorn cake; animals for the farm cakes; flowers and feathers for the peacock cake; paint brushes and splatters of paint for the paint can cake and even a computer and papers for a cake designed to look like the Superintendent’s desk.
Finally - the beautiful cakes with original design details where complete and would have made event TV judge Duff Goldman of “Kids Baking Championship” proud.
The icing on this multifaceted lesson - everyone enjoyed a delicious slice of their cake!