Cupcakes with pizzazz
LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS Ragen Dunton lets her inner cupcake fashionista run wild as she learns different decorating ideas from Daughn Edwards. Her mother, Trina Dunton, looks on.
What's better than cake?
A mini cake.
Or more affectionately known as, the cupcake.
It's the perfect dessert or snack. It fits in your hand no silverware or plate needed.
Cupcakes aren't new to the dessert scene, but they have become quite the celebrities with television shows like "Cupcake Wars," "DC Cupcakes" and "Cupcake Girls." They are also a prominant feature in the half-hour sitcom, "Two Broke Girls."
Famous cupcake shops dot the countryside from "Sprinkles" in Beverly Hills to "Trophy" in Seattle, "Sweet: By Good Golly Miss Holly" in Orlando to "Isabelle's Curly Cakes" in Boston to the "Magnolia Bakery" in Manhattan.
Daughn Edmunds loves making and decorating cupcakes and wants everyone to be able to bake and decorate their own cupcakes like a famous cupcake emporium. She's doing it one class at a time, teaching cupcake, cake and cookie decorating classes.
Raised in Pitman, N.J., Edmunds now lives in Lehighton. After earning a degree in education and business, she went into the insurance business.
When she became a literary volunteer, it led to becoming an adjunct professor for GED and basic skills math. She went on to teach math for three years in a public school, with her insurance company keeping her on as an insurance training consultant.
"Teaching always stays with you," she says.
Through it all, she pursued her passion for baking and cooking for family and friends.
"When you're drawn to the kitchen, it calls you. And it's a family thing. It's something you can do with nieces and nephews."
She took classes with Wilton Cake Decorating for 16 weeks at Michael's in Whitehall to give structure to her skills.
"There are things you pick up that add to your own style," Edmunds said.
After her first decorating class, she went home and decorated cupcakes. She took them on a visit to her aunt at a nursing/rehab center, The Summit, and she thought, "Wouldn't this make a great activity for the residents?"
She asked the activities director who said, "Sure let's try it."
Now she goes once a month with her mom, two nieces and nephew and decorates cupcakes.
"You know the saying, 'Many hands lighten the load,'" she says of her helpers. They've been doing it with the residents for three years now.
Whenever Edmunds's niece, Avery Flynn, 9, visits from North Hanover, N.J., she and her aunt love to play in the kitchen.
"I like baking and you get to eat whatever you made when you're done," she says.
Edmunds loves to experiment with different flavors and patterns. She gets ideas from fundraisers and bake sales. On occasion she decorates cakes to look like spaghetti and meatballs.
"I get the most comments from people on that one."
That led her to making hamburger and BLT cakes.
One day she was at the pool and decorated a pool cake and took it to the pool to share with the other patrons.
Last year she made a vegetable basket for the Carbon County Fair.
"I'm always looking for a challenge."
Of her design choices, Edmunds says, "My goal is to put a smile on people's faces."
One day she took cupcakes in to the Palmerton Area Library and before she knew it, she was teaching a class for cupcake decorating twice a week.
"What's neat about cupcake decorating classes is giving bakers a technique. It makes it easier. And when I see the light bulb go on, when it clicks, it is so rewarding," Edmunds says.
"It's nice to see what I know passed along. I like that they'll be able to create something special for the next bake sale or family occasion. Who doesn't want to give someone a baked item? It makes people happy."
She gets a lot of mother/daughter combinations coming to classes, like Ragen Dunton, 17 and her mom, Trina.
"I love to bake and I wanted to learn how to decorate. I watch a lot of demos online but I wanted to a see a hands-on demonstration, so I started coming to Daughn's classes. I love watching 'Cupcake Wars,'" says Tina.
In addition to classes at the library, she teaches project classes at Michael's three times a week.
Edmunds says she loves what she's doing.
"It's very satisfying. There are as many decorating ideas as there is imagination."
For more information on Edmunds Saturday morning classes at Palmerton Area Library, call the library at (610) 826-3424.