Adult baking classes let strangers and friends create community over cake
Come on down, my loves,” Elisa Barber Crockatt says, greeting us like family who’ve entered her home, instead of customers who have come to her cozy shop in search of how to bake.
The three of us follow and are whisked into a world of butter, sugar and flour, chocolate and whipped cream.
We’ve entered the classroom kitchen of The Baking Hive, a Millcreek bakery that sells cakes, cookies and unique treats like the Dirty Jonny, and also hosts baking parties and classes.
Crockatt, owner and head chef, will teach us how to bake a triple-layer chocolate cake, cover it in buttercream frosting and decorate it in ganache, like a professional.
Yes, we’ve come to hone a skill. But we are also here for the fun—to meet new people or make new memories with long-time friends. Think of it as those adult painting classes that mix technique with entertainment.
But at the end of class, we get to eat our creations.
Crockatt opened The Baking Hive after studying at a culinary school in Ireland and working with top pastry chefs in London. “I want to pass on my love of baking to people,” she tells us, as we stand at attention at our mixers, aprons on, spatulas in hand.
She’s shared her talents on TV cooking shows, through baking birthday parties for kids, classes and private events,
including corporate events and ladies’ nights. She recently taught GE marketing executives from around the world how to bake. The kids who take her baking classes and leave with a homemade cookbook were first fans of TV baking shows.
The six-week courses for kids range from $144 to $180, depending on the age. Individual adult classes are $60. Crockatt also offers private classes to parties of five or six.
While we cream butter and sugar, measure ingredients and pour them into pans, we share why we’re there. Crockatt sums it up for us: Luxury now means having experiences. “Everything’s moving toward hands-on experiences, and also those forgotten skills. For so many years, we had mass production, or we had cake mixes. Now it’s moving to, ‘I want to learn. How did my grandmother do that?’”
We do learn: That the key to mixing batter is to begin and end with dry ingredients, how to apply buttercream frosting with an off-set spatula on a turntable, and how to use a knife and the right pressure points to move the cake to a platter. We ask questions and make mistakes, which Crockatt deftly corrects. In between, she allows us to lick the spatula and makes us laugh.
Friends Brooke Hathaway and Jennie LaFortune are there because they know Crockatt, and, as LaFortune says, the class is a good reason to “get together and see each other in the dark, dreary months of winter.”
Of course, they could have met for a warm drink.
But there’s something magical about creating together, Hathaway says.
“You kind of are in a little bit of a vulnerable state when you’re creating something. I think that whisper of vulnerability connects you with other people and allows you to create a community.”
Even if it’s just for a couple of hours.
The Baking Hive
3362 S. 2300 East, Millcreek