Sweet arrangement: History professor’s wife provides treats for annual bake sale

Photo by Olivia Wallace
Phi Alpha Theta’s ninth annual Franco-American Confection and Bake Sale brings in funds for Union’s chapter of the history honor society.

By Hannah King
Staff Writer

Phi Alpha Theta’s ninth annual Franco-American Confection and Bake Sale March 20 will help finance student travel next year, and history professor Stephen Carls’ wife, Alice, as well as Union students, have much to do with its success.

More than nine years ago, Carls’ daughter, Elizabeth, urged her mother, Alice Carls, to start a bake sale on campus to support the honor society.

Alice Carls, originally from France, is the Tom Elam distinguished professor of history at the University of Tennessee at Martin.

Stephen Carls, history department chairman, said the bake sale is more than a fundraiser and called it “a way to expose students to cultures in a fun way.”

Stephen Carls also is faculty adviser for the history department’s Delta Psi chapter of Phi Alpha Theta.

For the campus bake sale, Alice Carls baked a variety of European confections: cinnamon rolls using a Swedish recipe, croissants (France), scones (Britain), pistachio biscotti (Italy), flourless chocolate cakes (Belgium), dark and white chocolate truffles and madeleine tea cakes.

Alice Carls didn’t always enjoy baking, but when her husband asked her to make certain pastries and desserts she eventually gave in and learned to bake.

Growing up in France, Alice Carls mainly just watched the women in her family cook French food, she said. It was not until she married and moved to the United States that she pursued cooking more.

The decision to start baking “was a combination of things, because I was missing some things, like [genuine French] croissants, for example,” Alice Carls said.

Mary Ellen Poe and Gracie Wise helped bake desserts for the sale, too. Poe is vice president of Phi Alpha Theta and a senior history and economics double major; Wise is a junior English and history double major.

Students made no-bake cookies, cranberry chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, brownies and pumpkin tea cakes and more.

Alice Carls said the process of baking pastries such as croissants requires special technique.

“I’ll sum it up for you: it’s all in the wrist,” Alice Carls said. “Some people say baking is an exact science because you have the precise quantities. I beg to disagree.”

“It’s in the way in which you whisk the eggs, it’s in the pressure you exert when you roll out your dough — so it’s a matter of feeling [whatever you are baking].”


Union’s Delta Psi chapter of Phi Alpha Theta will travel to the history honor society’s national convention in January 2014 in Albuquerque, N.M. Jeffrey Lewoczko, senior history and physics double major, is this year’s president. The chapter was chartered in 1953, and as the oldest Phi Alpha Theta chapter in Tennessee will soon be awarded for its 60th anniversary.


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