When thinking of a dessert to bake, most teens typically select something simple, like brownies or some type of cookie. It is only the more adventurous baker who would choose a complex Napoleon pastry, and that is exactly what 14-year-old Sara Gans of Bergenfield decided to create for her winning MyKosher Teens cooking contest submission. Submitted last June, her creation consisting of lemon custard and berries encased in a pastry was a crowd favorite and won her one of the three winning spots in the competition hosted on www.kosher.com.
While Sara says she has been cooking independently for about three years now, she acknowledges that she has been helping her mother, Jenny Gans, in the kitchen for much longer than that. Growing up, Sara would assist her mother whenever she baked, whether it was a Shabbat dessert or a birthday cake for one of her siblings. Over time, Sara practiced her skills until she was able to create more intricate and involved dishes.
Perhaps what is most impressive about Sara’s dish is its creativity. Sara enjoys fruity flavors and decided to come up with a way to combine her love of berries with Napoleon pastries. She made her lemon custard filling by adjusting a lemon curd recipe with Rich’s Whip topping and then folding in fresh strawberries and blueberries. While doing this, she baked her pastries. The next day she assembled the dessert, sandwiching her filling in between two pieces of baked pastries. The entire process was captured by her phone set up on a tripod with help from her dad.
Sara is clearly more than capable of making complicated treats, but, like other teens, her favorite desserts are the simplest ones: cookies and cakes baked for Shabbat and other occasions. She can envision herself starting a business from her hobby in the future, and has even started practicing her cake decorating skills. With the creativity and skill she has shown at only 14 years old, it will be no surprise when Sara Gans eventually becomes a world-renowned baker.
Ayelet Glaser is an intern at The Jewish Link and an incoming sophomore at Barnard College.