BALTIMORE — Pigtailed Zoey Strickler held out a tray of New York’s iconic Black & White cookies to the camera for her teacher at Crack an Egg Cooking Studio to inspect. Browned slightly at the edges and puffing slightly in the middle, each of the six cookies on the tray was a magnificent disc larger than the 5-year-old girl’s palm.
“Oh my gosh,” the school’s founder, Carolanne Kappus said. “They look amazing. You could give them as gifts to your families and friends and they will say, ‘You made those?’”
Zoey Strickler, 5, and her sister, Bella, 12, are students at Crack an Egg, which provides live, remote baking and cooking lessons via Zoom. Classes are just for kids, though Kappus hopes to expand soon into courses for adults.
Each session lasts four weeks. The morning baking classes featured such treats as cinnamon bun French toast rollups, Coca-Cola cake and mixed-berry scones. Late afternoon sessions focus on easy, one-dish meals such as a Santa Fe chicken skillet, spinach lasagna rollups and creamy parmesan tomato tortellini soup with homemade garlic bread.
Kappus tries to blend fun food facts into the cooking instruction. For instance, she tells the kids 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 earliest cookies in the U.S. were macaroons and gingerbread.
“The kitchen is a great classroom,” Kappus said. “It covers reading, math skills, social studies, science and foreign languages.”
Ezra Abbott, 9, of Boonsboro, Maryland, carefully followed Kappus’ instructions to tap his eggs on the counter and then “open them like a book” at the place where the shell fractured.
“Today, I managed to crack eggs without any of the eggshell falling in,” Ezra said. “That’s actually pretty rare with me.”
Kappus incorporated the cooking studio in 2015. But she’d been preparing for a job teaching kids to cook since 2011, when her son, Jack, was 3 years old and ready to get involved in the kitchen.
“We were making pancake batter,” Kappus said, “and I said, ‘Jack, would you like to crack an egg?’ He loved it, and as he grew older, he became interested in more technical aspects of cooking like seasoning and temperature. He loves to roll out dough on this day, and he’s a pro at popovers.”
For three years, Kappus taught classes in-person in a church in Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania, and found that she had the patience to teach kids how to follow a recipe, plus basic kitchen safety and hygiene skills.
But COVID-19 put an end to most in-person social activities.
“I didn’t think cooking lessons would work with masks and social distancing,” Kappus said. “But Zoom opened up a whole new opportunity for me.”
Some day, she said she may resume in-person instruction. But that feels less urgent because her students mastered the transition to on-screen cooking lessons without skipping a beat.
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 made by her grandmother. She measured out each ingredient, then handed cups of flour and sugar for Zoey to plop into the bowl.
“I like cooking with my sister,” Bella said. “We usually have our own activities, but this gives us a chance to spend time together.”
Crack an Egg Studio charges $30 for a four-week cooking or baking session and $10 for an individual class. Class members provide their own ingredients and equipment. 443-807-2354 www.facebook.com/crack.an.egg.cs