My Bakery This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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By the time I was eight, I had read just about every cookbook in our house. On my eighth birthday, I received my first cookbook – the start of a large collection that I have accumulated over the past six years. I always wondered what it would be like to make delicious food for a living.

In April 2010, I took my first Wilton cake decorating class at A.C. Moore. I learned the basics during that first course, and I have continued to take a new class each year.

When making a cake, there are many challenges. First you have to plan the kind of cake and what the decorations will look like. Most fondant and gumpaste flowers must be made days in advance so they have time to dry. The cake and icing have to be the right texture and flavor, and colored with just the right amount of food coloring. The cake has to cool before you ice it; if the icing consistency is wrong, it will be difficult to work with. If you make a cake with fondant, you have to put a thin layer of icing on the cake before rolling out the fondant and laying it on the cake. Next, you need to apply the intricate flowers, and finish with details such as writing, leaves, stems, and borders.

As much as I love to make and decorate cakes, it is hard to imagine making a living doing it. I've always wanted to open my own bakery – it has been a dream since I took my first Wilton class. But at the same time, I have often been reminded of the negatives: the responsibility, the money necessary to start my own business, the long hours, and the chance of failure.

When I was little, I would sit in the kitchen before a party and watch my mom work on the cake. As I got older, I helped spin the mixer, decorate, or add ingredients to the batter. When I was seven, I made my first birthday cake. It wasn't fancy, but I was proud of it.

The first customer to order one of my cakes was a family friend from church. He was having a surprise birthday party for his wife and wanted me to make a cake for the occasion. I was eleven and had just learned how to make flowers from royal icing, which hardens as it dries and is edible. It took a lot of time and preparation, but it was worth it – they loved the cake, and I got a request to create another cake for them. An added bonus was that they told a friend, who ordered two cakes. Over the past four years, I have made nine cakes or batches of cupcakes for people.

When I open my bakery, I want to experiment with other recipes too. My paternal grandmother likes to try new dishes, so I help her cook when we visit her in Altoona. Meemaw doesn't give up when one recipe fails; she just throws it out and tries another. I remember a Mississippi Mud Cake she made once. The gooey marshmallow was overflowing in the pan, and she thought it was sure to be a “bomber,” as she calls it. It turned out that we loved it.

Meemaw comes to our house every year at Easter. We always make Easter egg nests – Rice Krispies treats with coconut and jelly beans inside. One year, we used older marshmallows. They were so sticky we couldn't get them off the spoon. We still laugh about that, even now. Meemaw continuously shows me that when people say you can't succeed, they are wrong. You may have to try again and again, but you can't give up. You need to learn from your mistakes and continue to reach toward your goal.

My goal now is to go to college and pursue the culinary arts. At a very young age, I had a dream of owning my own bakery. As I grew in years, wisdom, and size, I have worked toward that dream. Taking classes, collecting cookbooks, and designing each cake has pushed me to work harder to reach my goal of becoming a great chef.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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Mallowmarsh-Andi said...
Jul. 25, 2015 at 2:32 am
Love it. I'm going to school for culinary arts in August. I'm not much of a cake decorator, but I love making things like pastries and cookies. You'll get there!
 
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