Last week Wednesday was Heather’s last day at her summer job, and to say goodbye she had a baking day. The result would be a delicious cake for the children to enjoy after they had helped make it. I went along with Heather on this day because the following working day, I would become the teacher. So in essence, this was her last day and my first day. Although some of the students are different now, a few of them remained so I got to meet them that day, and familiarise myself with the my summer job surroundings.
We mixed up the cake on the patio floor. Why on the floor? Well, this is China and that’s just “how we do” here! The apartment that these classes are held in has no air-conditioner, and let me tell you, it is the peak of summer right now so it is hot hot hot in there!
The kids sat in a circle and all took turns helping Heather measure out the ingredients.
Having children as helpers means that they are bursting with energy, despite the heat, and more than willing to run back and forth when needed. One of them brought us a bag of what seemed like butter. We measured it out and added it to the mix, but it didn’t quite seem the right consistency.
Shortly afterwards, one of the Chinese mothers arrived and we found out that it was NOT butter, but rather some ingredient for pizza bases. Oops! This is one of the joys of living in China ~ Sometimes you just have to use what you have, and hope that it works!
Mixing up the batter and putting it into the cake pan.
The girls were a great help. Always eager to lend a hand!
The icing and fresh fruit for decoration
This was a “free day” so the students could do whatever they pleased. Some of them wanted to help with the cake through every stage of preparation, others just helped with certain steps. When they weren’t helping, they were reading, playing games…
… or building little block houses.
When the first layer of the cake came out of the oven, we started decorating it while the second layer was baking. The middle of the cake consisted of a layer of strawberry jam and banana slices.
Ready for the top layer
Heather and Jasmine: Proud of their work so far.
The students were constantly eating on this day, and the combinations of the foods would make most people sick. Aren’t kids resilient!? This little one about had a mouth full of chocolate, a lollipop, and a fork with chewy sweets on it. I guess all that energy goes to running around all day.
The second layer came out of the oven, and we got to work decorating it with icing, berries and more banana slices. At this point almost all the kids wanted to help!
One of the little boys was just there for the day, to visit and enjoy the party. He was sweet, but my oh my…. He was pretty clumsy! There were a number of times that he ran and almost fell into the cake! A couple other times he almost kneeled into the cake while reaching for berries to decorate it. Heather and I kept looking at each other and cringing! It would be an epic fail if this little guy landed right on top of the cake, or maybe even worse, if his foot went straight into the side of it. Then we would have to decide which parts of it to save. We definitely wouldn’t throw it away – As I said, this is China! Ha!
See what I mean?! Those little toes were way too close to the cake, and constantly moving about!
Back in the kitchen, others were preparing muffins and various snacks for lunch.
The final touch: Chocolate sauce all over the top of the cake.
After all the baking and cake decorating was done, it was time to dig in and enjoy lunch together. The kids could not wait to taste a piece of their masterpiece!
The combination of cake, kimbap (above) and various other sweet snacks throughout the morning left me feeling a little yucky. That did not however stop the students from filling up their bowls! It seems that their stomaches can handle anything.
And in case you were wondering – YES! We are eating kimbap and cake from one bowl, and both with chopsticks. I remember the first time I was given a slice of cake and a pair of chopsticks in Korea. I looked around a little confused, but realised that everyone else was eating the spongy cake with chopsticks so I better learn to adapt. No cake forks here ladies and gentlemen!
Since then this has become pretty standard practice for me, and I find myself reaching for chopsticks to eat almost anything now… Even cake!
We had a great time with the students, and I had the opportunity to “settle in” before work started the following morning. Since then I have been teaching these – and a few other – little kiddos every morning. I am enjoying this summer job, and have learned to not really care about the heat anymore. It’s a stress-free job, and I love being back at work! After all the waiting, I am happy to have something steady to be doing everyday until our new school year starts in September.
More on my summer job coming soon.