Taking the (cup)cake: Brownstown Central students participate in cooking competition



A Brownstown Central High School classroom recently took on the look of a popular competitive baking network show for a few hours.

Katlynn Schnitker’s culinary arts and hospitality class featured groups of students competing against each other for the class’s fourth Cupcake Wars. The competition is based on the television show now in its 10th season on Food Network.

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Schnitker assigned five teams the task of creating cupcakes tied to a theme from a Disney movie.

After deciding what movie to base their creations upon, each team baked their cupcakes, decorated them and assembled displays.

Winners were determined through tasting by other students and teachers. The cupcakes were judged on appearance, flavor, consistency and other categories.

Schnitker also judged each team on how well they worked together, how efficient they were and, of course, the flavor of their cupcakes.

The goal was for students to learn more about cupcakes and baking and putting those lessons into action through teamwork and learning how to read recipes in a fun way.

“We learn about something and then we cook,” she said. “We can learn about the recipes, but then they actually get to learn how to prepare the food.”

In the end, the team that selected a theme based upon “Beauty and the Beast” won. The group featured a rose in a glass vase at the top of a staircase, similar to a scene in the movie. The cupcakes were filled with strawberry filling and had fresh strawberries cut to look like a rose placed on top of the cupcakes.

Bailey Hughes was a member of the group that chose “Moana,” one of the latest Disney movies, for its cupcake design.

Hughes said she enjoyed the experience and the class is helpful, too, because she has plans to pursue a career in culinary arts.

The senior has enrolled in a pastry program at Ivy Tech Community College for the fall and would like to someday open a bakery.

“I’ve had a lot of ideas of what I wanted to do,” she said. “I started at an early age, and I’ve always baked, and I’ve always really loved it.”

Over the years, she has baked in Jackson County 4-H and at home. Her mother always made sure she and her sister could read recipes, and a family friend always taught her about baking.

Schnitker also has been a big help in broadening her knowledge about baking.

“I haven’t had a student yet that has entered the culinary field, so it’s pretty cool,” Schnitker said. “They can offer a lot of things to the class.”

One example is when Hughes made macaroons, small Italian biscuits similar to cookies. They are challenging to make, even for experienced cooks.

When she needed a silicone baking mat, Schnitker loaned her hers.

“She always is personable to her students,” Hughes said. “She’s always taking that step for you.”

She brought them in for Schnitker to taste and was successful.

“They’re tricky because you have to have them at the correct peak and correct temperature,” Schnitker said.

Hughes said Cupcake Wars was a great experience for her.

“It’s good learning, and she’s taught me about what needs to be balanced in cake recipes and putting it all together to have the right consistency,” she said, adding she enjoyed seeing the other displays. “I was really surprised with what everyone came up with, and everyone did well.”

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