Ivy Woolenberg Spreads ‘Love, Joy and Frosting’ Through For Goodness Cakes
By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
Twelve-year-old Ivy Woolenberg, an almost-lifelong Palisadian who moved here at the age of 4, has been baking her whole life—and now, the Marquez Knolls resident is elevating her passion to give back to underprivileged youth.
“My mom is big in the kitchen, she cooks, bakes a little bit,” Woolenberg shared of how she got started.
But it was Woolenberg’s grandmother who really inspired her love of baking.
“I would always go over to her house and bake together,” she recalled. “It was always really fun, and then as I got older, I would ask her, ‘Can you teach me how to make this?’”
The first big thing Woolenberg learned how to make on her own was French macarons, which she shared she has continued to make ever since her grandmother taught her how.
At the age of 9, Woolenberg decided that baking was more of a passion than something she would do once in a while, so she began to bake more independently, starting with cookies and cupcakes.
And then, she started her journey with cake decorating.
“I really discovered cake decorating about two years ago,” she explained. “It was something that, at first, it would kind of frustrate me because it could never be perfect or how I wanted it, so I stopped for a little.”
Pausing the cake endeavors for a bit, Woolenberg’s friends at Archer School for Girls in Brentwood tried some of her cookies and they told her, “Oh, my God, Ivy, I have to order something from you.”
Woolenberg began to take orders for friends, which, at that time, were mostly for cookies and cupcakes—leading to her deciding that she wanted to give cake decorating another chance.
“I thought, ‘I can try again, it will be fun,’” Woolenberg explained.
Over summer break, when she had more free time, Woolenberg practiced and practiced, and said she found a love for it. This was also the time she started her Instagram, which widened her following to more than school friends and friends of her mom.
“One of the things about cake decorating that I love is how I can get better every time,” Woolenberg explained. “It’s almost this process that so much goes into it, I feel it’s something that you can be really proud of. Every time I do it, I get better and better, which can build confidence in it, and I think about it and I will look back at pictures of when I was started and now and it’s really cool to see my progress.”
Each cake is crafted over the course of a few days. The first day, Woolenberg preps the cake layers, which she said takes about two hours to do. The next day, she decorates, including making the butter cream.
“Decorating in general can range from anywhere from two to four hours, it really depends on the style of cake that I’m doing,” she explained.
Her favorite creations are piped cakes, which include different designs throughout the whole cake. Woolenberg also adds sprinkles and white chocolates that she makes.
While Woolenberg was searching for a project to do for her upcoming bat mitzvah, she attended a school community service fair where she discovered For Goodness Cakes, a Santa Monica-based nonprofit. It was a perfect match.
“It’s an organization where you bake cakes for foster kids on their birthdays,” she explained, “and you deliver them right to the organization … it’s just a really unique and heart-warming experience.”
Woolenberg explained that there’s simple things, like celebrating your birthday, that she feels really thankful to get the privilege of doing, that not everyone gets to. For Goodness Cakes matches volunteers to make and hand-deliver the birthday cakes to foster children and at-risk youth.
“I felt like if I can do something to help foster kids just have a really special day, that sounded perfect to me,” she shared.
Woolenberg, who has made half a dozen cakes for the organization so far, has enjoyed the experience so much and connected so strongly with the message that she plans on continuing to work with them after her bat mitzvah project is over.
Her bat mitzvah will take place early next year, and then Woolenberg will take a look at what’s next, sharing that she is open to “any way that life leads” her, but that she is “definitely interested in [baking] professionally.”
To see more of Woolenberg’s work, visit her Instagram page @bakedwithlovebyivy.