Home Our Diocese Mount Aviat Academy nears cream puff-making marathon; orders needed by Feb. 4

Mount Aviat Academy nears cream puff-making marathon; orders needed by Feb. 4

889
Volunteers work on making cream puffs in 2020 at Mount Aviat. They will be back at work in a few weeks for the annual fundraiser. Dialog file photo

CHILDS, Md. — “All-nighters” at schools conjure up images of students with noses buried in books, caffeinated drinks at the ready, as they prepare for final exams. But at Mount Aviat Academy in Childs, Md., the overnight marathon takes place in the kitchen inside St. Joseph Hall.

There, the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales and a small army of volunteers keep busy making thousands of cream puffs for Cream Puff Day, which will take place on Feb. 11. It is the 27th year the school has had a day devoted to the confectionary treat, but Oblate Sister Joseph Margaret, who has been in charge of all of them, said the sisters began making them for the school bazaar some 55 years ago. The bazaar is now in its 60th year and still has cream puffs.

All of the work is done on the school grounds, all of it fresh.

“None of this is made ahead of time. It’s done that day,” Sister Margaret said. “This has gotten so big in the last two years, now we start baking the night before. There’s a crew of us, and we bake through the night.”

The kitchen inside St. Joseph Hall gives the crew much more space than the convent. They have added a convection oven, and they were recently given another large mixer. The group uses electric fillers for the pudding, which has to be special-ordered six to eight weeks in advance.

Sister Joseph Margaret said last year’s event required 90 dozen eggs, 120 gallons of milk and about 100 pounds of sugar.

Last year, the volunteers made nearly 6,000 cream puffs. Sister Joseph, who has only missed one year of baking because of an illness, works with Mount Aviat’s secretary after school to make sure everything is ordered and ready to go. She said Delaware Brick is their biggest customer; last year, the company ordered approximately 75 dozen of the treats. Sister Joseph Margaret is amazed at how big the event has become.

“I never, ever dreamed of it. But people actually start calling to order these things before Christmas. We get calls in November, December,” she said.

The last day to order is Feb. 4 and can be done through the school’s website, www.mountaviat.org.

Two other women have been involved in the venture for all 27 years, Denise Ertle and Connie Miller. Their children went through Mount Aviat, and Miller’s now help out. She has a grandson who just started at the school, Sister Joseph Margaret said. The nun’s brother and nephew also lend a hand. She estimates the volunteer group numbers around 30.

“It’s now going through the generations. It’s kind of fun seeing that happen,” she said.

Cream Puff Day is a fundraiser for the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales, who have owned and staffed Mount Aviat Academy since it opened as a kindergarten in 1954. There was a high school from 1960-72, and in 1969, a first grade was added to the kindergarten. The school added a grade each year until 1977.

The funds go to wherever the greatest need exists, Sister Joseph Margaret said, a decision made by the sisters.

She said the coronavirus pandemic has not hurt business, and one of the unintended benefits was the addition of online payment. Prepayment is required.

Sister Joseph Margaret had a suggestion about enjoying the treats. Some people freeze them, then remove them from the freezer and eat them just before the pudding defrosts completely.

The cream puffs cost $16.50 for six or $33 for a dozen. They must be picked up at the school gym on Feb. 11 between 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m., and masks are required when picking up. Delivery is available in Elkton, Md., and Newark for orders of six dozen or more.

For more information or to order, go to https://mtaviata.ejoinme.org/creampuffs22.