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Baking on Staycation!

By Laura Burgess, faculty

Throughout nearly fifteen years working in boarding schools, one of my greatest joys has been sharing my love of cooking and baking with the students I get to know. Some of my happiest memories of my work come from time spent in my various kitchens at the three schools that have been homes for me during my career, giggling and baking. At my first school, Mercersburg Academy in PA, I will always remember making ooey, gooey “seven layer” bars with a group of girls from my dorm. At my next school, Emma Willard School in NY, my dorm was home to some adventurous and health-conscious bakers. Lavender cupcakes, lemon olive oil cake, vegan gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, vegan mac & cheese, and more. Here at Tabor, I have already had a number of fun baking adventures with different groups of students. Tray bake custom s’mores, pumpkin scones, holiday sugar cookies, sea salt caramel brownies, and more!
This Spring Break was no different. With a group of Tabor international students remaining on campus for a school-bound “Staycation”, I figured it would be a great time to do some baking. I spoke to two of the girls who play on my JV Tennis team, Lily and Ranne, and received guidance that matcha (green tea flavored) cupcakes would indeed be delicious, and we made a plan.
Lily and Ranee came over one afternoon to bake. Lily likes to bake at home and is a self-taught baker in her own right! Ranne was new to baking, but it seems that her first time baking will not be her last. We made our own buttercream frosting from scratch! My mother is the queen of buttercream frosting and she makes the best. My efforts pale in comparison. Upon reflection days onward now as I write this piece, I think it’s because I always forget to sift the confectioner’s sugar. But Lily and Ranee were very patient and we had lots of giggles while we tried to make the frosting in the stand mixer. On our second batch, we used the hand-held mixer, and it came out much better. Pro tip! Their presence helped me laugh at myself instead of panic when I accidentally dumped about one cup of powdered sugar onto my counter and the floor instead of into the bowl. In the end, we had two types of cupcakes: lemon flavored cupcakes, and matcha flavored cupcakes. We also made two types of frosting: matcha flavored and regular vanilla. I found some coconut flakes in my pantry and we sprinkled some on top of each kind. There were even decorations!
The girls took a few plates back to the dorm to share and the rest were saved for the following night when I planned to serve them along with ramen noodles for an evening activity. When Lily and Ranne arrived the following night, along with about 20 other students, they helped me taste-test and dish the ramen into bowls for the other guests. They also were sure to get the tray of cupcakes from the fridge and share it with their friends ASAP! I didn’t even have to prompt them…
So, if you’re at home this week, trying your hand at some baking, try some of your own homemade buttercream frosting. Just be sure to sift the confectioner’s sugar first.
Thank you for a fun afternoon of baking, Lily and Ranne!
2-3 cups confectioners/powdered sugar (sifted!)
1 stick butter, softened (well softened, but not melted…very important! Non-dairy butter sticks work, too)
2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp milk of choice

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