Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holiday cookies

Well, since school has been out it seems like everything has been a blur. I made cookies for three days, wrapped presents, the holidays were here, then I got sick. Blah. haha But I am feeling better and thought I would post my cookies.

I spent one whole day just making sugar dough, cutting cookies, and baking them. I made 6 dozen! The biggest tip I can give for sugar dough is to roll it out between waxed paper so the roller never touches the dough and to refridgerate it after you have rolled it out. It helps so much! Thanks to these tips from my hand dandy Cookie Craft books! I made snowflakes, peppermint candies, and candy canes. I spent ALL day doing cookies. By the evening I was so exhausted I crashed out on the couch!

The next day I started with the snowflake decorating. It took me over an hour just to make the frosting (royal icing) and organize it all. I realize now I should have taken pictures of the whole process but I am new at this blogging thing!  I followed my friendly blog Bakerella as well as the Cookie Craft books and organized my station and used their tips for using the icing. I used plastic squeeze bottles bought at Michael's and made by Wilton for the flood icing. These worked out great because you can put the lid back on and it is air tight so you don't have to store it in a different container over night. It stays fresh and works very well.

For the piped icing, I put it into different sealable containers to color them. After finding the desired color, I put them in the pastry bags using twist ties to close right above the icing and at the end of the pastry bag to avoid messes (which worked very well). Another tip I learned was to have cups or glasses the size of the pastry bags with wet paper towels in the bottom so when you are done with the color you can place the bag in the glass with the tip down touching the wet paper towel and it keeps the icing from running out and from drying up. This is where pictures would come in really handy! haha The flood color was the easiest because it was in the squeeze bottles.

How decorating cookies works is you pipe a thicker royal icing around the edge and then the flood color is placed inside (a thinner form of the icing and color) to make a smooth surface. The piping can also be used for decoration as well as any kind of sprinkles or candies. I kept mine pretty simple and used only icing and colored sugar.

I unfortunately cannot eat them but I have been told they were yummy! I had fun making them even if it took 3 days to make them all!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

And the semester is over....with straight A's!!!

Okay, so it has been a couple of weeks since I have updated my blog. Things have been a bit hectic with school since Thanksgiving passed. I will give a quick update on what has happened between then and finals.

After Thanksgiving we had a lab where we learned cream/custard sauces. We did creme anglaise which is also referred to as vanilla sauce. This wasn't too difficult but there is a short window of time between it being ready and burning it! Basically it is milk and cream with eggs, sugar and vanilla. It is a thin sauce and most likely you have seen it drizzled on desserts when you order at a restaurant. You cook it on the stove and strain it to get the lumps out. My favorite was pastry cream. This is actually more like a custard or pudding that is used to fill cakes, pastries and sometimes donuts. It is also good on top of things like pound cake. It is made similar to creme anglaise but it cooks to a thicker consistancy before cooling it down. It is also done on the stove and requires a talented eye to know as soon as it is done without burning it. I did a pretty good job with it and wow was it yummy! Thing vanilla pudding. Yum! That same lab we also did stovetop brulee. I let my team partner take them home as most of my family is either allergic to milk, lactose intolerant, or both. haha But we learned how to torch the top which was pretty cool.

Since then I skipped a lab to study. I had a certification test for my food cost analysis class which I am still waiting for the grade on. I am pretty sure I got the certification, but just have to wait. As for my regular finals I did pretty decent. I got an 86% on my written baking final and an 84% on my food cost analysis final. Not as good as I would have liked on either but I was happy with them. Then, last night, was my baking practical (hands on) final. We were going to either end up making apple pie and creme anglaise or pound cake and pastry cream. I have been wishing for pound cake and pastry cream for weeks now. HAHA! I am happy to say that I DID end up with pound cake and pastry cream! And, I rocked the final. No crazy stories to tell, nothing went badly, I just rocked. And I got a 199/200. I was so excited! So, in the end I have ended up with A's in both classes!

Now I have a break until February when Spring semester starts. I will be taking Baking 2 and Art. The art class is a 2D design class. It should be fun. I was hoping to take another drawing class but it just didn't fit into my schedule.

As for updates on here, there won't be much to update unless I am baking at home, which I intend to do. With Christmas right around the corner, I am going to make sugar cookies and make use of my Cookie Craft books. (I just bought Cookie Craft Christmas today!!!!).

So, Happy Holidays to you all and I hope to have fun updates during my winter break.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What did we do??

So my brain has been so occupied by my 3 finals and 1 certification test that I barely remember what we did in class last week! Last week was Thanksgiving right? haha!

What did we make? Oh yeah, we made different cakes! Well, my team partner and I made blondies (which are like brownies but taste like butterscotch). I had another great partner last week. I made the blondie mix and she made the cream cheese topping. We added a cream cheese swirl with raspberries and sliced almonds. It took a while to cook since we added so much but they turned out great and were by far the yummiest things made in class! Most people had to make things like red velvet cake and devils food cake but we were happy to get the blondies which were our first choice. And if my family was actually telling the truth on Thanksgiving, they liked them too! I brought as much home as possible so we could put them out on a platter for snacks. They went quickly. (I forgot to take pictures).

What else did we do? Okay, that's right....we made pound cake! Not as easy to make as you think but I did a pretty good job. The hardest part is making sure you mix the butter and sugar until it is smooth and fluffy. In a Kitchen Aid mixer that is about 25 minutes on speed 2!! But, after checking and checking, my first step was finally done and I was ready to add in the eggs and flour. After that you have to mix it for a bit as well. We each made our own pound cake as it is one of the things we might have to make for our final. I really hope I get pound cake for my final not only because it is helluva lot easier than apple pie, but since I want to do mostly cakes for a living, it would be awesome to be able to do it again and get graded on it to see where I stand. Most carved cakes (cakes that are shaped) are made out of pound cake because it is fluffy and moist but it is strong and sturdy. It holds weight better than regular cake when stacking and putting a lot of fondant, etc on it. So, fingers crossed I get pound cake!!

As for everything else, I am really happy my math/accounting class is almost over! Although, it was really cute in class today as our teacher (who is not only Amanda Beard's Dad but is also a new Grandpa) had the new issue of People magazine with his daughter and grandson in it and was showing off the picture. Such a proud Grandpa! haha And the kid is a cutie too. As much as I like him as a teacher I will be happy when the test is over. Next week we review for the final and take our certification test for ManageFirst for the National Restaurant Association. Oy! Then I also have my written Baking 1 final next Friday. Oy! But at least the last day of finals we will have our baking final scores back. I won't have to wait to get my grade!

Well, off to get sleep. Wish me luck on all of my tests. This week's lab is creams and sauces and next week's lab is cheesecake (I think), but with all the tests I am not sure I will be able to update until after that is all over.

Happy December!