Baking with a purpose

March 1, 2024, 8:55 p.m. | By Alexander Liu | 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Serena Laney explains her journey in baking, dancing, and more

Serena Laney Photo courtesy of Hannah Hekhuis.

“You go back to the drawing board, you go back to your control, and you try again to see what works.” 

Serena "Siri" Laney is many things: a dancer with the Blair Dance Company, a student director of Sankofa, and a choreographer for Blair Theater. Perhaps the thing she is most well known for, however, is baking. 

Laney first started baking in sixth grade, just as the COVID-19 pandemic started to close down the country. “When I was in around sixth grade, I auditioned for a baking show… I was in [its] final stages of when COVID-19 hit. And so since that point in time, I really tried to improve a lot of my baking skills,” Laney says. 

In eighth grade, Laney gave out baked goods each week for free, a practice that has since changed after coming to high school. “When I got to high school, I figured out that people would actually pay money for it. So all of my freshman year and then parts of this year, I would bring in baked goods and sell them each week,” Laney explains. 

Over time, Laney’s business has evolved. She now employs a bank system for her business, and has catered to her fellow students and guests at baby showers, birthday parties, and even a wedding. 

Despite her success in baking, Laney’s true passions lie in cooking overall. “Even though I bake a lot, and it's what most people know me for, I do want to go to culinary school for a culinary degree, not specifically a pastry degree,” Laney explains. After culinary school, she hopes to work in high-level professional kitchens, and perhaps even open her own restaurant one day. 

Laney’s favorite dish outside of baking is a pad thai with Cameroonian-style stew beef, a representation of her own heritage. “I'm Chinese and African, specifically Cameroonian, so I really like doing fusion with those two cultures, because it's food that I grew up with,” Laney says. 

Outside of baking, Laney also serves as captain of the Blair Dance Company, a club where newcomers can learn the technical aspects of dancing. She also dedicates plenty of time to the various performances at Blair, such as Sankofa and the annual plays and musicals. 

Whether in baking or anything else, Laney stresses the importance of persevering through failure. As Laney says, whenever trying something new, “Don't be afraid to mess up and try again.” 

Last updated: March 1, 2024, 8:56 p.m.

Alexander Liu. Hi, I'm Alex (he/him) and I'll be a staff writer for SCO this year. I'm passionate about public policy and international relations. In my free time, I enjoy drawing and watching terrible rom-coms. More »

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