Meet HBA educator award winning teacher, Elizabeth Hagan, Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS), Carroll, Iowa. Elizabeth has her high school students researching, baking and photographing a topic she loves—the culture and types of birthday cakes baked in other countries.
Elizabeth shares that she started baking as a child. “I loved sweets and baking gave me the opportunity to make what I loved. Early on I loved trying all of the sweet treats and just playing in the kitchen. Next I was playing “restaurant” and selling the treats to my siblings and parents. As I got older, I began trying new recipes for the county fair through 4-H, where I was able to learn a few more skills from my mom and trial and error.”
Like so many careers, they’re launched by experiences at home and in communities. “After going to college for FCS education, I fell in love with baking science and love learning why some baked goods turn out and others don’t go as planned. I love learning about the function of each ingredient and how every ingredient plays a role in recipe development. Now, birthday cake baking engages my students to achieve multiple learning objectives- sciences, literacy, history and math.”
Elizabeth’s favorite birthday cake? Funfetti!
“I’ve always loved a funfetti cake! It lives up to it’s name- fun. The colorful sprinkles brighten any day- especially a birthday! My first funfetti cakes were made using box mixes, but eventually discovered homemade funfetti recipes and haven’t looked back! I don’t know if I like how it tastes or looks better.”
Elizabeth’s cake baking tips:
1. Use cake flour for an extra fluffy cake! It’s produced from soft wheat, has lower protein content, so creates less gluten development, giving your cake a fluffy texture.
2. Don’t be scared to use a lot of sprinkles to enhance appearance and make the cake extra “fun!”
3. For even layers, allow the cake to cool completely overnight. THEN gently slice the cake with a chef’s knife, to remove any rounded edge or peaked sides. This will allow for even stacking and a smooth finish.
5. Funfetti cakes are especially easy to decorate, because you can use so many colors to add a visual appeal to a white cake.
Learn ALOT more about cake baking, access Elizabeth’s lesson resources and follow her Birthday Cake blog series
Access Celebrations Take Cake, a recorded ZOOM FORUM, with Elizabeth and ASR-Group Research Chef Eleonora Lahud, including live-linked Cake Baking Resources.
Bearthday Cakes Around the World lesson resources Follow Elizabeth’s 3-part blog series The Sweet History of Birthday Cakes