About half-way through this year’s sweltering summer, Anna Lloyd, a rising fifth grader at the Greensboro Montessori School, had already tested, baked and sold dozens of her miniature cupcakes to friends and family. And just around the same time athletes, Missy Franklin and Gabby Douglas were winning gold medals at this year’s summer Olympics, Anna was wrapping up the books on her successful summer baking business, Sprinkles Cupcakes by Anna. It made me wonder, what have I accomplished this summer? And, in the words of Beyonce, “Who runs the world? Girls!”
I met Lloyd after sampling one of her signature cupcakes at a Chamber of Commerce celebration. The cupcakes were delicious and moist, meticulously organized in their own cardboard carrying case and dusted with Lloyd’s signature glistening sprinkles. So to my surprise, my friends at the Chamber notified me the cupcakes came from a 10-year old who was raising charitable dollars for the Guilford County Animal Shelter. I was intrigued and set up a time to chat over a Mocha Cookie Crumble milkshake.
Between slurps, Anna told me about her summer assignment at the Greensboro Montessori School. All rising fifth grade students are required to choose a summer project that incorporates all the subjects. This is a charge to continue the learning process throughout the summer and sharpen students’ skills from math and art to Spanish. While Anna’s friends choose to redecorate their bedrooms and research the backyard squirrels, Anna dreamed of something she was truly passionate about – baking.
She was inspired by cooking lessons from her mom, Ellen, gardening and cooking classes at the Montessori School Edible Schoolyard and of course, her favorite shows on the Food Network. With the show Cupcake Wars in mind and the encouragement of her parents, she started her own cupcake business.
She started a big notebook to keep order forms, advertisements and her budget (she needed to reimburse her parents for expenses at summer’s end). She crunched numbers to create her own base cake batter, researched the cost implementations of using vanilla beans to a lesser expensive vanilla paste and even translated the recipes into Spanish to meet all the class requirements. And between a number of camps, vacations and piano lessons, she developed her own recipe after reading many books and recipes online. By creating a base batter she modified the recipe to make vanilla, chocolate and red velvet cupcakes along with three flavors of of icing.
With the support of her neighborhood, church, friends and parents’ networks, Anna sold a total of 101 dozen miniature cupcakes this summer. That’s 1,212 cupcakes! While she may not win any Olympic medals in baking, Greensboro may have the next Food Network star.
In true entrepreneur form, Anna was not willing to disclose her signature cupcake recipe. She did however work with me in the kitchen at the Greensboro Children’s Museum to develop a back to school pasta that is just as versatile. Pasta packed with fresh seasonal vegetables is a favorite of Anna’s to bring to school. Add any colorful vegetable that you enjoy and toss it with your favorite pasta shape, some fresh herbs – and of course, a beautiful garnish.
Anna’s Very Versatile Back to School Pasta
- 1 pound, cooked bowtie pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Veggie Variation #1:
- 1 pound, asparagus cut into bite size pieces
- 3 carrots, sliced
- 1 lemon, juiced and zested
- 1 small handful, fresh dill
Saute carrots in 2 tablespoons olive oil until tender. Add asparagus and stir until bright green. Add lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper. Combine with pasta. Sprinkle with fresh chopped dill.
Veggie Variation #2:
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 small handful, basil
- 1 large handful, freshly grated parmesan
Saute tomatoes in 2 tablespoons olive oil until warmed through and beginning to soften. Add minced garlic – and enjoy the aroma! Combine with cooked pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Add fresh chopped basil and parmesan cheese to taste!
Enjoy immediately or at room temperature the next day at school!