Getting Frosted: Cocalico senior, already a baker extraordinaire, teaching eighth graders

By on December 21, 2016

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Cocalico High School senior Julia Winters knows well the feeling of accomplishment that comes from a moist cupcake or just-sweet-enough frosting.

The cheerleader and two-sport athlete has a budding baking business and regularly shares the joy of cooking with students in a daily life skills classes at Cocalico Middle School.

Hollie Kemper’s eighth graders are learning a bit about how to shop, how to prepare meals and how to serve customers like the teachers who depend on their coffee- and newspaper-delivery services.

Last week, Winters and Kemper led five of those students in making pumpkin pies for a “Thanksmas” feast. Instead of focusing on how challenging some lessons can be, Winters focusing on helping the middle schoolers gain confidence in the kitchen and elsewhere.

“A lot of these kids seem to talk about how other kids talk about them. It makes them feel different,” Winters says. “I don’t understand why anyone would do that. They’re so much fun. I look forward to coming in every day.”

She hopes the cooking connection is a preview of her future, one in which she’s a professional baker offering classes or maybe jobs to individuals with disabilities.

Over the last year, Winters began selling her homemade cakes and cupcakes, an extension of the baking she’s done since elementary school.

A childhood obsession with the Food Network’s “Ace of Cakes” lit her passion, and she had asked for her first recipe books and special ingredients by fifth grade.

“The older I’ve gotten, the more things I’ve explored,” says Winters, once known for her giant chocolate chip cookie cakes.

Today, she plays with flavors like coffee and peppermint to please her parents and, maybe, potential customers. She always cooks from scratch, often with recipes she’s learned to adapt through experimentation and experience.

She buys her own staples — butter, especially, gets expensive — but she depends on her parents for equipment like the all-important stand mixer.

Though she’s not certain yet where she’ll attend college, Winters plans to major in business. For now, she’s running her home-based baking endeavor mostly by word of mouth. Customers are typically family members, friends, or friends of friends.

Her specialty is cupcakes, especially cupcakes overspread with frosting to look more like cakes. In the last year, she made them in the shape of a bridal gown for a relative’s wedding shower and a shamrock for St. Patrick’s Day.

Though Kemper is a neighbor of the Winters family, Julia says her decision to volunteer with her through a service learning program offered at Cocalico High School was cemented after her tennis team worked with Kemper’s students last year.

To earn her place in Kemper’s class, Winters had to finish most of her academic requirements early and fill out an application explaining how she would help Kemper and the kind of responsibilities she’d have. Winters also explained that the experience might provide her valuable insights for her future career.

“It always helps to have an extra set of hands,” Kemper explained last Wednesday, as students prepared the pies from ingredients they’d purchased at Weaver’s Market days earlier. “And the boys are pretty much sure she’s a super model.”

On this day, the girls are just as smitten, as Winters helps the students take turn measuring salt, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, evaporated milk and other ingredients. Eighth grader Gage Lawhorne asks if she’s cooked before, to which Winters gives a modest response about a few things she’s baked.

“Ms. Julia happens to be an expert baker so she’s going to help us,” Kemper says, noting that students have to find the right utensils, set the oven, double the recipe correctly for two pies and wash dishes after they’re done.

“Make sure you follow the directions,” she adds as they giggle. “Nobody wants a disgusting pie.”

As the pies move to the oven, Winters and Kemper put their heads together to make sure Winters can make it to the next day’s feast.

A menu for 25 includes classics like ham, mashed potatoes, and buttered noodles, as well as pickled beet eggs (all of the items picked by the students themselves).

It’s the kind of creative energy Winters sees being a potential asset in a bakery.

“I just think it would be cool to include other people and to help them out,” she says.

First, Winters has to help herself.

Under pressure from her grandma, who wants to promote her new business to friends in her bridge circle, Winters’ homework this holiday break is to come up with a name for her cupcakery.

 

 

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