Zoey Strickler with pigtails held up a tray of New York’s iconic Black & White cookies for the camera for her crack teacher at Egg Cooking Studio to inspect. Lightly browned at the edges and slightly puffed in the middle, each of the six biscuits on the tray was a gorgeous disc, larger than the 5-year-old girl’s palm.
“Oh my god,” said the school’s founder, Carolanne Kappus. “You look fantastic. You could gift them to your families and friends and they’ll be like, ‘You made these?’”
Zoey Strickler, 5, and her sister, Bella, 12, are students at Crack an Egg, which offers live baking and cooking classes via Zoom. The courses are only for children, although Kappus hopes to be able to offer courses for adults soon.
Each session lasts four weeks. Morning baking classes featured treats like French toast rollups with cinnamon buns, Coca-Cola cake, and scones with mixed berries. Late afternoon sessions focus on simple, one-dish meals like a Santa Fe chicken skillet, spinach lasagna rollups, and creamy parmesan tomato tortellini soup with homemade garlic bread.
Kappus tries to integrate fun food facts into the cooking instructions. For example, she tells the children that cookies “were brought to this country by Dutch settlers in the 17th or 18th century”, that the word “cookie” comes from the Dutch “koekje”, and that some of the first cookies in the US were macaroons and gingerbread.
“The kitchen is a great classroom,” Kappus said. “It includes reading, math, social studies, science and foreign languages.”
Ezra Abbott, 9, of Boonsboro, carefully followed Kappus’s instructions to bang his balls on the counter and then “open them like a book” where the shell broke.
“Today I managed to crack eggs without any of the shell falling in,” Ezra said. “It’s actually pretty rare for me.”
Kappus founded the cooking studio in 2015. But she’s been preparing for a job teaching kids to cook since 2011, when her son Jack was 3 years old and ready to volunteer in the kitchen.
“We made pancake batter,” Kappus said, “and I said, ‘Jack, would you like to break an egg?’ He loved it and as he got older he became interested in more technical aspects of cooking like seasoning and temperature. He loves to roll out dough that day and he’s a popover pro.”
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For three years, Kappus personally taught at a church in Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania, and found she had the patience to teach children how to follow a recipe, as well as basic kitchen safety and hygiene skills.
But COVID-19 put an end to most in-person social activities.
“I didn’t think cooking classes with masks and social distancing would work,” Kappus said. “But Zoom opened up a whole new opportunity for me.”
One day she said she could resume face-to-face classes. But that feels less urgent because her students have made the transition to on-screen cooking classes without disruption.
As Kappus explained each step of the recipe, Bella Strickler moved purposefully around her family’s kitchen in an orange and black “What’s shakin, bacon?” Apron from her grandmother. She measured each ingredient and then handed cups of flour and sugar for Zoey to pour into the bowl.
“I like to cook with my sister,” said Bella. “We usually have our own activities, but this gives us the opportunity to spend time together.”
Crack an Egg Studio charges $30 for a four-week cooking or baking session and $10 for a one-on-one lesson. Students provide their own ingredients and equipment. 443-807-2354 www.facebook.com/crack.an.egg.cs