On September 29th, the Bakery Society Pittsburgh welcomed its first class of young Bakers-in-Training. Ranging from ages 8 to 16, they also ranged in experience; some had never baked at home, while some on the older side proudly proclaimed that they enjoyed baking pies and cookies from scratch. All shared one important feature: an interest in baking and a desire to improve their chops in the kitchen.

TBSP staff was not surprised that so many had caught the baking bug at such a young age; many of our bakers have early memories of learning kitchen skills from older relatives. “I remember making chocolate chip cookies from a magazine recipe when I was in 6th grade,” said Baker-in-Residence Cristin Higgins, who learned how to bake with her grandmother. “Everyone loved them and I’ve been baking like crazy ever since.” Seeing the joy that well-made baked goods brings is a huge motivator for young kids who are testing their newfound skills.

We try to capture this sense of hard-earned joy in our Bakers-in-Training class series. During our September 29th class, students were first introduced to the rules of the kitchen. They were taught to wash their hands—well and often—by participating in a hand-washing relay. They learned proper techniques to measure out ingredients for a homemade buttercream frosting, which they spruced up with bright colors and administered using piping bags onto carrot cake or banana muffins.

While TBSP is all about celebrating tasty treats, we’re also a food-based organization that is keenly aware of the role we can play in informing consumers about how they can take control over their own health. Bakers-in-Training students engage in interactive games and activities that center around food education. For our first classes, kids matched unusual foods to the proper food group and drew a “balanced plate.” We prompted students to think about how nuts (walnuts), fruits (bananas), and even vegetables (carrots) can make carrot cake or banana nut muffins delicious, satisfying a sweet craving while also expanding one’s palette. You’ll always find a selection of vegan, gluten-free, and diabetic-friendly treats in our storefront. The Paddy Wagon, owned by tenant baker Patrick Kelly, provides these options for those who may want to enjoy a yummy snack while honoring their dietary needs.

Bakery Manager Phil Enck and Baker in Residence Jewel Edwards took the lead for our first day of classes and look forward to seeing some returning bakers this coming Saturday, when TBSP will launch its second series of Bakers-in-Training classes. We can’t wait to see more young bakers excited by the satisfied reactions their creations earn from family and friends.