by Alyssa Reeves
As published in Fall 2007 issue of STATEments magazine
K-State's Bakery Science Club discovers recipe for success
written by Alyssa Reeves
What just might be the best-kept secret at Kansas State University can be found every Wednesday afternoon in Shellenberger Hall, where a weekly bake sale has fed K-State students' cravings since 1970.
This is a bake sale with a professional purpose: While patrons munch on the tasty creations, students in the Bakery Science Club are gaining career experience.
The club's production manager, Ashley Klein, Fairview junior, says the bakery and science management majors gain valuable hands-on experience while creating and selling a variety of products, which include whole wheat graham crackers, brownies, and French bread.
Dave Krishock, Bakery Science Club adviser, attributes the bake sale success to consistently good products sold by young people who really believe in what they're doing. The club averages more than 50 members each year, 30 of whom participate regularly.
The variety of products offered weekly at the sale keeps customers returning. The monster cookie, made with oatmeal, peanut butter, chocolate chips, and M&Ms, is the most popular. "Let's face it, college kids are always hungry and we're right on campus," says Klein, who personally favors the peanut butter chocolate chip cookie.
Though club members may spend an average of seven hour preparing for their sale each week, they devote even more time to baking around the holiday season at the end of the fall semester and at K-State's Open House in the spring. Krishock says students bake five days in a row in December.
"It's a great group of people. They really work hard. If you're in English or engineering, you can't have a club that's building I-beams or doing something really exciting in English. But here is something with instant gratification, where they bake it and within 24 hours they know whether the customers really liked it," says Krishock.
JOIN THE CLUB
Were you the family chef back home, but being in college has kept you out of the kitchen? Or perhaps you're interested in learning the basics of baking? Anyone desiring to join the Bakery Science Club, regardless of academic major, can simply show up to help bake. "Only about half of the membership is bakery science majors," says Krishock. Baking begins around 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and continues until all confections are complete, usually around 9 p.m.
Megan Leonard, Goodland senior, is Bakery Science Club president and a bakery science and management major. She understands students' concerns about committing so much time to the club, and that's one reason it's nonexclusive. "We understand that some Tuesdays are test nights and we allow students to come and go," says Leonard.
Those visiting the bakery science lab for the first time undergo a mini-orientation to the production. "Students have to go through a safety orientation before they can start baking," Leonard says. "Students are matched with a trainer who shows students how to do certain tasks." Leonard adds that the club follows federal Good Manufacturing Practices, so no open-toed shoes or jewelry are allowed and students must wear a hairnet while in the bake lab.
With all of its success, the Bakery Science Club has to decide what to do with the profits. In the past, scholarships have been set up for outstanding seniors and funds have been contributed to disaster relief. The majority of the profits help pay for students to attend the American Society of Baking Conference in Chicago during the spring. Members who work a specified number of hours are eligible to take the all-expenses paid trip.
While in Chicago, students have the opportunity to seek internships or jobs while networking with vendors, exhibitors, and companies. Krishock remembers one K-State graduate who l anded a job with the world's largest producer of sprinkles. Another K-State student recently made contact with the graduate, who now sends purple and white sprinkles to the club.
"Bake club is kind of a way to get a leg up on a little experience and people skills before graduating and going out into the real world where you have to be ready for it," says Klein.
Involvement in the Bakery Science Club is about more than just baking. "If a student has problems with calculus or something, fellow club members can help each other," Krishock explains. Klein also enjoys the chance to build new friendships and meet students with similar majors. "It's an enjoyable way to spend an evening," says Klein. "Who can be sad or grouchy when they're around so much sweet deliciousness?"
CLASSIC BAKERY RECIPE
WHOLE WHEAT GRAHAM CRACKERS
2 cups butter (shortened) 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar 2 Tbsp. honey
1 1/4 cups brown sugar 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flower 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flower
4 tsp. baking soda 1 Tbsp. cinnamon 1 Tbsp. ground ginger
1 whole egg 1 egg yolk
Sift flours, baking soda, cinnamon, and ground ginger two times.
Cream the butter and sugars on low speed for 1 minute then on medium speed for 3 minutes. Add honey and mix on low speed for 1 minute. Add sifted flour mixture and mix on low speed for 3 minutes, then on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs and mix on medium speed for 3-4 minutes.
Divide dough into 2 1/2 balls. Form the balls into rectangles and let them rest for at least an hour. Roll dough out to a thickness of 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch (example: pie dough thickness) on a lightly floured surface. Cut 3 1/4 - 3 1/2-inch squares and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Dock the dough with a fork. Bake in the over at 350˚F for about 13-14 minutes until crackers begin to color.
Let crackers dry out a day or two before packaging.