Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Butterflies, Butterflies, Santa Hats and Christmas Trees

Wow, what a whirlwind of an end of the year it has been! I apologize for not keeping up more with my blog. Things were a bit hectic at the end of the semester. But, I managed to get through it and now I have too much time on my hands! I went from being super busy, to being free 5 days a week. Something is going to have to change or I might go insane! haha

Okay, so last time I was getting ready to finish up my butterfly cake for my pastry class and my reliquary for my sculpture class. Both turned out great and I was so excited! First, the cake.

It was a nerve wracking day for my final pastry class. I was all set to go but was so nervous! My fondant went on beautifully, and the butterflies looked gorgeous. However, we were all having problems with our royal icing. See, there are two different ways to make this type of icing. One is with egg whites and the other is with something called Meringue Powder (basically dried egg whites). We all like to use meringue powder because it is less messy and you don't have to refrigerate the icing. The only downfall is, it can produce clumps. Now, the brand I use at home I have never had problems with, but for some reason the brand of powder we had at school was so difficult! We ALL had lumps in our royal icing. Well, this makes it hard to pipe with a metal piping tip. So, I had to improvise and use a paper cone instead. The problem with that is, you don't get a perfectly round stream of icing. So, that part of my cake could have been a lot better, but I "made it work" as Tim Gunn would say. :-) The butterflies were easy to attach but in the end, I should have made even MORE than I did (and I thought I had extra!). But all in all I was SUPER happy with how it came out and I got a 95% on it so I am happy.

On to sculpture. I think I mentioned previously that we were making reliquaries.

"Reliquary: a repository or receptacle for relics."
"Relic: a surviving memorial of something past or an object having interest by reason of its age or its association with the past."

So, I chose a 14k gold butterfly charm that I was given when I was about 7. It was given to me by my biological father who passed when I was 10. Butterflies are also something that remind me of both my grandmother on his side, as well as my Grandma B. Something about Grandmas and butterflies...haha. Anyway, we were to build something to hold it in that would show it off and represent it. Oddly enough, mine turned out looking like something out of Snow White...and similar to a tree. Family tree perhaps? Who knows. It was not conscious. Art has a way of developing in ways you wouldn't even imagine. I started off in a completely different direction and ended up with something I was very proud of. Now, I did not make the hearts, the bird, or the front oval frame, but I did use power tools for the back, the neck, and the base as well as put it all together and hand painted everything. I love it. It is sitting on the other side of my bedroom as a reminder that I am not only artistic and talented, but a symbol of my emergence into a new career that is happy and beautiful! On the back is an Irish Blessing about butterflies. I am Irish on both sides of my family but my Grandpa on my father's side was SUPER Irish.

The last week of school I made some Red Velvet cupcakes with Candy Cane frosting. YUM! They were a hit in class and my Mom even took some to her English department office for all the teachers to munch on.

Then comes Christmas. My FAVORITE holiday. Oddly, it took a while for me to get into Christmas this year. But Christmas day was wonderful. I had a great breakfast with my Mom and her boyfriend and we opened presents and then I went to my Dad's house to hang with him and my cousins and open up presents and make...CAKE POPS!!!! It was my first time showing someone how to do them as well as using a design out of my Bakerella cake pop book. I chose two things that were simple and the same shape. It was a hit! We had so much fun and everyone got in on the fun. We ended up making round pops too that I have dubbed "ornament" cake pops. haha That way they could look any way they wanted. Everyone is so creative! Here are a few pictures of our creations.

Then last but not least....one of my cousins got me the CUTEST Christmas tree ornament. Look how adorable!!!

I can't get over its cuteness! :-)
I made some gluten free banana bread this week too, but pictures of that are boring. heehee Next up...to use my new Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker my bestie got me for my birthday! I got lemons off the Dad's lemon tree and the metal freezer bowl is in the freezer preparing to be used already. YAY!

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and have a fantabulous New Year!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's been a month????

Where has the time gone? A lot has gone on since my last post. I have learned to table temper chocolate, how to use templates to cut chocolate for sculpture, how to make chocolate truffles, the use of power tools, started a new project in sculpture, made rolls successfully at home for Thanksgiving and started a new job.

Let me start by saying....I might like eating chocolate but chocolate and I don't get a long when it comes to working together. :-) Tempering by marble slab is difficult. Now, I got pretty good at that part but the first day was a nightmare. The first time I tempered, I did awesome. Then we had to do it again, and again, and again, because of the chocolate sculpture we were doing. Let's just say I eventually gave up and there is only one picture of a horrible chocolate sculpture flower of mine in existence and very few people have seen the disaster. haha The second day of chocolate went much better as we didn't have to temper it as many times and it was all about cutting out pieces before they hardened and then gluing them together with chocolate. Much better:

Then the last day was truffles. Oh yummy truffles. Now, I was doing great and way ahead of everyone and then....my filling set up too fast before I could get it in the truffle shell. Air holes. UGH! Now, they still turned out pretty and tasted amazing but I had to keep them in the fridge just to make sure they didn't go bad! But for the first time, not bad.

No pictures of stuff in my sculpture class quite yet, but it involves wood and power tools! I have learned to use multiple types of machine sanders and saws. It is fun but I finally had to start wearing a mask because of my allergies. haha

Thanksgiving was interesting. Made an amazing cherry pie filling but instead of making my own pie dough, I decided to use frozen pie dough. Well, I tried to use the Trader Joe's brand and it did NOT work out well. In retrospect, I should have either bought the frozen dough in a metal pie tin or made the dough myself! lol So, it ended up going into a dish with a crisp crumble on top. As a pastry student that is 6 months from graduating, I could not bring myself to put out a pie that looked like that, even to my family. So, crisp it was and it tasted awesome!

My rolls were beautiful. I was nervous about using the granule yeast and trying to proof in my Mom's temperamental oven, but it worked out great and they looked awesome. I only regret not taking a picture!

It was nice to have a Saturday and Sunday off and used my Sunday morning that I am usually up at 4am to get up at 7:30 and drive over the hill towards the ocean to take yoga in Laguna Beach at 8:30. It was a great Sunday!!

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Two more weeks of school left and two weeks of making my final cake in class!! Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Time is flying by!

Okay, so I can't believe it has been a few weeks since I posted. I have so much to catch up on! Right now I am taking a break from my cake project presentation for my pastry class. It is almost done. Design is finished, requisition is complete, just need to finish writing the story and put it all together. Whew! Can't wait to get started on that cake!

So, going back a couple weeks....oh yes...we had a guest lecturer/instructor to teach us how to make amazing gum paste roses. Wow. It took ALL DAY to make 1 rose. However, this man (John Jennison) was amazing and I learned so much from him. My rose came out amazing. It looks so real.

Then last week we got to work on our cake dummies again and practice new techniques for our cake project. The theme was Halloween cakes. Because I like to plan and not wing it, I decided a few days before to do a Nightmare Before Christmas theme and cut out stencils. Here is a tip: you can make your own stencils (for cake decorating, scrapbooking, or even painting) with an exacto knife and those plastic write-on page dividers for binders. They come in different colors and are perfect for stencils. They ARE a bit thick so it takes some muscles to cut through them, but they will now last a while. Also, because they are plastic, they can be washed off for a second use. The brand I used was Avery. They were the "Durable Write-On Plastic Dividers" and are PVC Free. The Avery number is 16171. I put in the link to help you out. :-) They helped me create this cake:

Cool huh? I am so super proud of Jack Skellington!! Not the best piping work as I was having problems with clumps in the meringue powder but not too bad for a practice cake!

Next comes my Sculpture class project. We just finished these today. We started with a block of clay that we carved that we used to make a silicon mold and then poured plaster in to get multiple tiles. Then we painted. Here is my end result:

I am proud of this too. If I had more room on my current bedroom wall, I would put them up right now!

So, the other big thing is that I got a new job. YAY! I was hired as a cake decorator at a bakery near my house. I am so super excited and can't wait to take the next step in my career.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Chocolate dough, 3 weeks, and 3am

So, I realize it has been 3 weeks since my last post. Same amount of time I have had since a day off from work or school. Things have been a bit crazy. I did take a day off last week and had a scheduled day off as well. Two days off in a row! I celebrated by taking myself to lunch and a movie one day (The Social Network...GREAT movie) and to Disneyland with some friends the next. It was much needed play time.

So, the biggest news I think, is that I got my cake assignment for my class. A colorful butterfly cake. I am so excited! Now if I just had time to really work on designing it! haha We also worked with chocolate dough last week in class. We learned to make a chocolate rose first. Then we learned how to do chocolate molding with rice cereal treats like you see on TV all the time. It was my first time working with that method and it worked out okay. We had limited time so my chocolate monkey didn't get her full halloween costume, but here is a picture of her. I didn't have time to clean her up either so she is a little messy. But I am proud of her for my first try! Oh, also a picture of my chocolate rose. Whatever....I was having problems posting so you are going to have to turn your head. I am too tired to figure it out! LOL

Yesterday I had to get up at 3am and go to the school bakery to work. I was supposed to work 4 hours but my sculpture class was cancelled so I put in a full 8 hours. Wow...weekdays (especially Thursdays when the school restaurant is open) are totally insane compared to my normally scheduled Sundays. I am looking forward to Sunday! haha But at least my hours are caught up now.

Tomorrow's pastry class we have a guest teacher, John Jennison. He is going to be teaching us gumpaste roses and flowers. I look forward to it! It is always nice to get a different view on how to do things. Pictures will be taken!

I had wanted to do a charity gingerbread house for SOS (Share Our Selves) in Orange County but do not have the time or money to put into what goes into a good gingerbread house for auction. However, I came across a cupcake contest that I may participate in that the deadline isn't until January. So, I have time to play around and submit. Hey, first prize is $10,000...even 3rd prize is like $3,000. So, I might just go for it!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gluten Free, Egg Free, Dairy Free Vanilla Cupcakes

So I had a couple of hours to kill this afternoon and decided I wanted to make cupcakes or cookies or something of the sort. However, I really didn't want to spend any money or have to go to the store. I went to my cupboard and took a mental note of the ingredients I had. Many of you probably know that I am allergic to wheat, eggs, and milk. So, I went on a flipping spree through my baking books. I have some gluten free baking books but they all require all these really weird, expensive ingredients that I just don't have on hand. So, I went to one of my cupcake books to find a simple recipe. I found a decent, easy, fast recipe for vanilla cupcakes.

I substituted the flour with AP gluten free flour blend, the milk with almond milk, and the eggs with egg replacer (a powder you mix with water that acts in a similar way eggs will when baked). Everything else was the same (baking powder, sugar, etc). They turned out okay. The problem with gluten free AP flour is that it has this weird aftertaste to it. I prefer to bake with almond flour but of course, I didn't have any. :-) Gluten free also always tastes less sweet. I guess that can be good but it makes cupcakes and cakes taste more bread like than cake. But it was an experiment and for the first time, not so bad. Next time I think I will swap out a bit of the flour to add a bit of brown sugar.

The batter also didn't make very much. The recipe said it would make 16 cupcakes but they must have meant MINI cupcakes because I got a whole 6 cupcakes! haha! But since I am the only one around that will eat the GF, it is better there are less.

The icing (I say icing because it is more like poured fondant instead of a frosting/buttercream) was a wing it as well. Well, more of a wing it than the cupcakes. I really didn't start with much of a recipe. I took a bunch of powdered sugar and mixed with a little water at a time until I got a thinner icing. I then added vanilla extract. I decided to also add marshmallow to give it a bit of a different flavor. Ummm.....lets not discuss the fire I almost started with the first marshmallows I put in the microwave. heehee Let's just say I had to throw out the plastic container I was trying to melt them in. :-/  So, I finally got the marshmallows melted and mixed it in with the icing I had made. The thing about marshmallow is it hardens up really fast when it is by iteself. So, when you melt it to add to something, you have to add it quickly or it becomes a sticky mess. I was able to get it mixed in pretty good with the icing so I could dip the cupcakes.

Well, while I was waiting for the cupcakes to cool, the icing set up a bit too much. The first cupcake I dipped turned out okay but the second one broke. The whole top came off in the icing! In the end I ended up just spreading it on with a spatula knife. So, they aren't as pretty as I hoped. I sprinkled with some pink sanding sugar to make them look a bit better. But, they are a great sweet treat in the afternoon!

So, next time I will try a couple different things. I hope to have my own recipe in the end!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I'd rather be burned with a curling iron

Okay, so the semester is underway and I have been so excited for what has started I had no idea it was underway so quickly! I am trying to sit back and soak in as much as possible.

After getting the confirmation that I had not only got into the on campus internship but also the last class in baking (the class I took the whole program for) I threw myself into getting all my supplies without even realizing I am almost done. HOLY CRAP! I am almost done with school! This semester I am taking a sculpture class, Directed Practice (the on campus internship) and Baking 3/Pastry.

So the first thing I have learned in the last couple of weeks is that for the next few months I will be tired, period. I have school, work, and my internship. I am at school 4 days a week with two of them being Saturday and Sunday. I also work at least 2 days, if not 3 during the week. So, I wake up no later than 6:15 pretty much everyday but some days as early as 4:15. Such is the life of a baker, right? Okay, on to the fun stuff!

So, an overview of sculpture: we are carving clay! Right now we are working on a clay carving project that will, in the end, teach us how to make molds. Molds as in silicone molds I believe. We are still carving. I am almost done! So, here is a picture of it almost done:

The first day of Pastry class, we actually worked with sugar. Boiled sugar. Hot ass sugar. Sugar burns hurt. I would rather be burned with a curling iron. However, I have heard that once you burn yourself with sugar, you will never do it again. So looks like I am good to go now. :-) Hey, at least I didn't blister. Thank goodness. Before class we had to create a fish mold with clay. I forgot to take a picture of it, but it was a basic outline of a fish. You bake it so it is hard and then you spray it with vegetable spray before pouring the boiling sugar into it. When it hardens, you break away the mold and you are left with what was inside it. Here is a picture of my fish right after taking it out of the mold:

Next we put it all together with some other forms of sugar (bubble sugar, rock sugar, pulled sugar) to create an underwater scene. Here is mine:

Isn't he cute. I haven't named him yet. What should I name him? (Well, he is now swimming with the other fishies so to speak...RIP fishy).

The next day I had Directed Practice which is where we do an on campus internship at the school bakery. Since our school is a full Jr. College, we have many places we bake for. We have a fully functional Starbucks on campus that we bake for, our student center cafeteria, a child care center, and two snack bars. We are pretty busy. My first day turned out pretty good. I made chocolate chip muffin mix with a new recipe, a new recipe of chocolate brownies, I prepped muffins (prepped pans and scooped for next morning), made sugar dough and rolled out to put in tart tins. Tomorrow we should have more going on but I am excited about practicing all I have learned in the last year.

Today in Pastry we worked with pulled and blown sugar. First was the pulled sugar. It was difficult at first but I got the hang of it. We were to make a bunch of leaves and then flower petals and put together a flower. Everyone had different colors and were making different types of flowers. I kept mine simple as I really want to learn the techniques before I start getting all fancy. :-) Here is my end flower:

Next we went on to blowing sugar. Yes, it is similar to blowing glass. And it is hard!! In the end I had a bit of problems and only ended up with one good piece, a green apple. For the first time, I was pretty darn stoked on it! Here it is:

So, more DP and more sculpture this week and then we move on to buttercream and fondant in Pastry next week...something I am a bit more comfortable with thank goodness. haha I am so loving this!

No morning to sleep in for at least the next 4 days and no day off for at least 8 days, maybe more. Thank goodness I love what I am doing! :-)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Good News!!!

So I got into all of my classes! I will be interning on campus at school and also taking the pastry course. I am also enrolled in sculpture. (As well as still working at the cupcake shop). So, it will be a busy semester with lots of projects and lots of work, but I am so looking forward to it! More info to come as the semester gets under way!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Busy busy busy

So, work and life have just been hectic! Sorry no posts lately. The only information to update would be that of trying to get my stinking classes for fall. See, I have 3 total classes left. 1. Directed Practice (onsite internship hours at the school) 2. Pastry/Baking 3 (must take Directed Practice before or at the same time) and 3. Directed Practice 2 (offsite intern hours). Well, I am on the waiting list for both the first Directed Practice AND the Pastry class. The problem is, only 8 people are allowed to register for Directed Practice each semester. So, 16 people per year. The Pastry class is only offerred in the fall. So, if I don't get them both this semester, I have to wait a whole year to graduate. The school is basically pushing my graduation a whole year. First of all, sucks and second of all, not legal by the state of California. So, luckily the state has rules about this. I am trying to work it out and hopefully I will get into both classes. Fingers crossed. At least I am signed up for a sculpture class just in case. :-)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cupcakes, cupcakes, cupcakes

Well, I haven't been posting since school got out. Plus I have been working my little booty off making cupcakes at my new job. I got a job at a cupcake bakery in Lake Forest, CA. Oddly enough it is down the street from the first house I lived in when we first moved to south orange county. Although the center we are in was leveled and is all new now.

So, I have been making cupcakes and more cupcakes since right before Memorial Day. I really enjoy my job. I have had a lot of friends come in to try it out and to visit. I work 40 hours a week baking and decorating. Just this week we decided to donate cupcakes to a charity event that is also doing a cupcake contest! So, we are entering. It should be fun. We brainstormed the other day and should be trying out our suggestions soon.

As for school, things don't look good. I have three classes left. 2 internship classes taken consecutively and one pastry class. Well, the pastry class cannot be taken without the first intern class. I have to take it first or at the same time as the pastry class. Unfortunately, I could not get into the internship class last semester. I register today for fall and both the internship class and pastry class are full. It makes me mad because it sets me back a whole year because the pastry class is only offered in the fall. Which means even if I can get the internship class in the spring, I have to wait until the following fall to take the pastry class. Of course, that class is the whole reason I am going through the program in the first place!! So I am frustrated and mad. I thought having the 4th day of registration as my date I would be okay. Not so much. It pretty much sucks.

Anyway, here are some pics of some of our cupcakes from work. Some are special orders. Don't they look yummy?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Honor's Week, Sorbet, and Frostings!

Okay, so Honor's week wasn't so bad. I learned a ton and it was nice to be able to do desserts in mass quantities and learn how to make everything uniform and look great on serving platters.

The day before the event we had our regular lab. At the beginning of class, Chef had a tray of really tiny cupcakes. Well, the problem was, they weren't supposed to be tiny! So, she had done research and decided that we were going to make cake pops out of them. I was super excited! Of course she turned to one of the girls in the class that she knows has done stuff like that and wanted her to do them. I, of course, wanted to be sure to get in on the fun so I raised my hand to let Chef know that I had dabble in the cake pop/cake ball area myself. And trust me, having done them before definitely helped. Both the other girl and I had figured out the same things having made them at home so making them in class was a lot easier. (For example, the website we both love where we got the idea to make them from, http://www.bakerella.com/, mentions to use a can of frosting. We both had issues with them being too squishy and not setting up correctly so we added frosting little by little which helped a ton. BTW Bakerella is awesome. I love her!! If you haven't visited her website, it is a must. She is amazingly creative and definitely an inspiration when it comes to baking!!) We had another girl help us out and I think the 3 of us did an amazing job! Here is the pic:

The next day I was to report to the bakery at 1pm. I had art class in the morning so I grabbed lunch and went to my car to eat and read until time to report. I don't even know if I should get started on that! haha I got to my car and this is what I see (FYI...I am the tiny Mazda on the right):

I was a bit furious to say the least. The funny thing is, behind me while I take the picture is the campus security building. When I got to my car they were sitting outside as I stopped, looked, turned to them and said "How the hell am I going to get in my car?" They totally laughed. They were really cool giving me ideas. Luckily the idiot was parked at that angle which enabled me to put my stuff in the passenger side and being thin, I was able to squish into the driver's side by going around the front of my car. Don't think I wasn't careless with my door while getting in. ;-) The campus security even called over the head of security to okay them giving the idiot a ticket. It was a definite go. Poor bastard probably has no idea why they got the ticket. Too bad I wasn't in my car when they came back to theirs!

Anyway, I got to the bakery only to find out that they were finished. Completely done until right before the event. Chef checked me off and said I was fine and that if I wanted to come back at 4 to help with the event and it was convenient, that I could. Well, living not so close I chose not to knowing that there were a lot of people coming back. It probably would have been a waste for me to be there. So, I was a bit bummed I missed the hustle and bustle of the event day, but in a way I lucked out getting points for doing nothing. But she did say that the cake pops were a hit and that they will probably have to make them again next year in a higher quantity. :-)

This week's lab was chill. No pun intended. We made ice cream and sorbet! Since I can't eat ice cream I wanted to do sorbet. My friend who I have all my classes with and I paired up and made lime sorbet. YUM! I actually was able to get it home too. We did work a bit on plate presentation but we ended up getting a bit rushed and didn't have time to really do anything fancy. So, even though I took a picture I am not putting it up because trust me, it is not worth it! I really enjoyed making the sorbet and now I really want one of those little ice cream makers. Not only are they super cute but it makes ice cream and sorbet a breeze to make! I remember when I was a kid and we had to get rock salt and stuff to make ice cream and it would take all fricken day to churn. This took about 20 minutes!! Awesome to say the least.

This week was also very exciting for me. On Monday I got a call for a job that I had applied for just last week. There is a fairly new gourmet cupcake place a few miles from me that was looking for a baker/decorator. (They do cupcakes, cookies and are getting ready to branch out into chocolates). Out of the places I applied, it was one of the two I was hoping to hear from. I was super excited when the owner called and did a phone interview with me and then asked me to come in and meet with him and the bakery manager. I went in yesterday to interview and not only did I love the bakery but they both seemed really nice and I got a really good vibe. I thought the interview went very well. Well, today, I got the call and they offered me the job!! I am so excited. I cannot wait. After the corporate world took a poop on me, I am finally going to be getting paid for something that I truly enjoy doing. The work will be hard with some rough hours (some shifts start at 5:30am, but such is the life of a baker) but I am so excited to get on to yet another chapter in this life of mine. I still have some schooling to finish up but I am moving up! Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

So much to catch up on!

Okay, so looking back I realized it has been a while since I posted. I honestly thought I was kind of caught up through at least the week before last. Oh well!

So, the week after the Baklava and Almond Macaroons we made tarts. We had made sugar dough the week before so it was ready for us to use right away the next week. (It was frozen for a week of course). I was the only one that wanted to make Strawberry mini tarts so I ended up working by myself which was fine with me. I hadn't really worked by myself before. So, I rolled out the dough, cut the rounds and put them in the mini tart tins. Easy enough. The idea was to make 10 individual tarts that we chose (technically assigned) and then 5 fruit tarts which are tarts with pastry cream and topped with fruit and apricot glaze.

My strawberry tarts turned out really cute. I was very proud. The only problem I had was that even though I measured everything properly, the base of the strawberry mixture didn't really set up as much as it should have. It was heated to the right consistency (Chef even came over and helped out with that since it was my first time heating up a puree to thicken it) but after being mixed with the strawberry chunks and placed in the tarts, even with refrigeration they didn't set the way they should have. We decided (Chef and I) that the recipe definitely needed a bit more cornstarch for thickening. At any rate, they turned out super yummy and everyone that tasted them raved. So, I might just have to make more over the summer when my Dad has his summer BBQ's. :-) Here is a picture of them topped with banana whipped cream and a white chocolate disc.

Then there were the regular tarts which I actually think I did a good job with. I was happy with them. And they also were super yummy. Picture:

Okay, so the following week we started Honor's Night prep. Honor's night at the school is a reception and ceremony for those being honored with scholarships. The culinary department does all the food and baked goods/pastries for the event. I cannot even explain to you how much stuff we are making! Last week I worked on my own making eclair shells. So, I made choux for the eclairs and piped them out. The idea with Honor's prep is we treat it like a professional catered event so we really have to do things perfectly (or almost). So, it was essential that I piped the shells as identical as possible. I didn't do too bad at that. I baked them off and then the rest of lab was me helping those prepping the mini tarts.

This week was another Honor's Night prep. I made white chocolate mousse to help fill roulades with and then rolled them and put them in the freezer. It was quite a stressful day in the bakery and things were quite insane to say the least. Yelling from Chef, personal drama brought in to class...at the end of class Chef told us to go home and forget about the day but that we were still her A Team. lol It was definitely one of those days.

On the bright side, I finished my marzipan project for Honor's Night. The theme is "Mastering Your Dreams" with the idea of art masterpieces. I ended up chosing Profile of Time by Salvador Dali. It turned out pretty good. It is due Tuesday and will be displayed with the others on the dessert tables during the reception. Here it is! I am pretty proud.

So, next week is Honor's week. We will be finishing up prep and Wednesday I have signed up (we have to put in extra hours) for the few hours leading up to the reception so I will get experience plating and doing catering set up. I am happy about that! After next week we have one week making ice cream and sorbet and then it is finals week! I cannot believe the semester is almost over. I am actually kind of sad about it. Then it will be off to find a bakery job. Next semester will be Baking 3 which is cake decorating, chocolate work, sugar pulling, etc. I can't wait!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Baklava and Macaroons

Last week's baking lab was a lot of fun. I had a wonderful partner and we got to make some awesome stuff! We made pistachio baklava and almond macaroons. I had never made either. I was so excited to make both, but especially the macaroons. I keep seeing these darn macaroons on baking blogs everywhere! I HAD to learn how to make them!

When we told Chef that we chose the macaroons she looked less than pleased. It was sort of funny. She paired us up in teams and she paired me up with another person in class that is really good. When she gave us a funny look and looked away, he turned to me and said under his breath "Shes thinking 'what a waste of talent'." LOL We laughed over that one because it was so obvious that was what she was thinking but we didn't care. I was determined to make those damn macaroons!!

Well, they turned out to not be as easy as I think she thought they would be. If you over mix the meringue mixture, they can get too tough. Ours were pushing that direction but not at the fault of our own. Chef came in and told two of the teams doing the macaroons to slowly put in the almond flour mixture. Well, with that process, you over mix the meringue. But, on the other end, the other teams followed the recipe directions and theirs weren't mixed enough. So, lesson learned: somewhere in between! I can't wait to try these again at home. Ours looked amazing and despite the slight chewy toughness, they tasted amazing! Here is a quick snapshot I took with my cell in the bakery. They are sandwiched with buttercream (vanilla, chocolate, and mocha).

Next came the baklava and working with phyllo dough. It was tough to work with at first, but once we got the hang of it, it got easier. I thought we did a great job and Chef said they turned out perfect. YAY us! Baklava isn't too difficult to make either. The hardest part is working with the phyllo. You make the nut mixture, make a syrup for dipping later, and then start working with the dough. You take one sheet at a time, laying it out and brushing it with butter layering with another on top repeating the process until you have a stack of 4 sheets. Then you sprinkle the nut mixture inside and roll tightly. Score the roll in 2 inch increments for easier cutting after baking and bake. Once they are baked, you cut them and dip them in the syrup. YUM! Here is a picture of the pistachio baklava:

We also made sugar dough for tomorrow's lab. We are making tarts. Then we start the long process of Honor's Night! 3 weeks of preparation for the one hour of desserts at the school's Honor's Night. At least we will be finishing desserts and plating so that will be fun! A lot of hard work, but fun. I also need to work on my marzipan figure project. I have chosen a Salvador Dali time statue so we will see what happens!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Midterm and Springbreak

Okay, so I realized two things: first that I haven't posted for about 2 weeks and second, that I never updated about the cake balls I made! So first thing is first: Cake Balls!

So, they were messy but yummy. They were a hit with everyone that tasted them. I made them for a friend of mine's colorguard and for my drum corp's alumni meeting. All of them said they liked them. So, unless they were lying, they were good. haha They are pretty easy to make. Bake a cake. Crumble into a bowl. Mix with cream cheese frosting. Form into balls and place on cookie sheet. Refridgerate or freeze. Dip cold cake balls in chocolate. Let harden. I made them green for St. Patty's Day. This is what they looked like:

Okay, as for the midterm....not too exciting. I did get only -7 points on my lab test. We had to make bouche', chocolate mousse, buttercream, pipe with buttercream, and write with chocolate. So, not too shabby on the grade. I did pretty darn good and she said my buttercream and mousse were both perfect. NICE!

So, I have been pretty lazy for spring break but I do plan on making a dessert for Easter. I saw the recipe in a Jaques Torres book I got at the library. I am modifying it a little to use a bit of what we have done in class but it should be yummy!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lemon Bouche'

HOT. Damn hot. Hot and toasty! Just add oven. WHAT?!?! Yeah, the hottest day of the year so far just HAPPENED to be the day of my baking lab. And I thought the bakery was hot days during last semester. Nothing compared to Tuesday's lab. Ick. The cool thing was that everyone moved to the other kitchen so we pretty much had the bakery to ourselves for over an hour.

So, my partner didn't make it to class. I thought maybe he just missed the bus, but he missed Wednesday's lecture too so maybe he was out sick? At any rate, I hope everything is okay with him. I thought I was going to have to do things myself which would have been totally fine with me, but my previous partner (the one that rocked) had been out the week before and didn't have a partner so he got partnered up with me. So, as you could guess, everything ran very smoothly.

The cool thing about Lemon Bouche's is that even though they are kind of difficult, anyone could make them at home with pre-made puff dough bought at the store. Now, they won't puff up as much as a home-made dough would, but they will still turn out pretty good. I wanted to take pictures of the steps in class but since you really have to work fast, there was no time.

First you have to roll out your dough to 2.5 mm. Luckily we have a sheeter in the bakery so it goes a lot faster. After it is rolled out, you cut it in half and then throw it in the freezer. Once it is frozen (happens pretty fast because it is so thin), you take it out and mark the cuts with a cutter and then use a smaller cutter to cut out center holes. Because it was so hot, we had to freeze it again before stacking. Once it was frozen again, we egg washed the second piece and placed the piece with the holes in it (and markings for the big cuts) on top. Then you use the markings to actually cut the pieces out just like cookies. You end up with little shapes with another shape on top of it with a hole cut in only the top part. So, you are sort of making a cup. I hope that makes sense!

So, we baked the puff shells and made the lemon curd. Oh that lemon curd! SO YUM!! It is similar to what would be in a lemon bar, but more liquidy. When the shells are baked you let them cool slighlty, shake some powdered sugar on top, and then fill with the lemon curd. Oh that proved to be a mess since I thought after chilling the lemon curd it would be thicker. haha I actually put a big pastry tip in a bag that was about the size of the hole thinking that would work perfect. Not so much. Lemon curd is a lot runnier than I thought so I just made a mess. The shells got filled okay, but my partner rescued me but grabbing a pastry bag and just cutting the tip of it and using that. It worked so much better! Definitely a better choice.

In the end, they looked great. I was really proud. Plus they tasted great! haha The whole class produced some yummy items that night. (I have those pics on my facebook for those of you that are my facebook friends). The class as a whole also made Palmiers (YUM!), Fruit Strips, Apple Turnovers, and Napoleons. Everyone did a pretty good job. Below is a picture of my (and my partner's) Lemon Bouche'.

Next week is midterms! We have to make 5 Bouche' shells from pre-made dough (easy for me since I did them this week), chocolate mousse (which I will be making this weekend to practice), and buttercream. Then we will have to pipe a 12" shell border and 5 rosettes with the buttercream. I am confident with the shell border but i guess I should practice the rosettes this weekend. :-) Then we get to fill our Bouche' with the chocolate mousse we made. YUM!

Lets just hope the drama is kept to a minimum during the midterm because even though our lab rocks when it comes to what we do, there seems to be a lot of drama and it is rediculous! Sometimes I want to just slap people into reality and make them realize they are acting like immature, rude jerks. Hmmm....maybe I just will..... ;-)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Opera and Chocolate Taffy

Sorry it has been a couple weeks since my last update. My art class was kicking my butt with deadlines. But the last two weeks of baking have been so fun! I have been wanting to update but just haven’t had time.

So, two weeks ago we made Opera cake and Tiramisu. I ended up with Opera because of the type of thin layer cake that my team made a few weeks before that. Almond Biscuit Jaconde. YUM! It has mostly almond flour in it so I was able to eat it and not have very many allergy effects. It made me a little bit tired but I was so willing to deal with that!

Opera cake is built from bottom to top in this order: Biscuit Jaconde that has been slathered on the bottom with coating chocolate and hardened, then chocolate ganache, another layer of jaconde, coffee butter cream, another layer of jaconde, and then a smooth layer of coating chocolate that hardens on top. YUM! Some might switch the ganache and coffee butter cream depending on the look they want when it is cut. Let me tell you….that coffee butter cream is A-MAZ-ING! I don’t usually like that strong of a coffee flavor in my desserts but oh my was it good! My team got a big A for the day (I had an awesome partner) and a few compliments along the way which was very cool.

Last week we moved on to candy. YAY! I now feel I can make candies at home and not freak out. Haha My team made chocolate taffy. I ended up with a partner that was more eager to do the taffy than the puff dough we had to do first so I did much of the work by myself. Then when we got to the taffy he turned the sugar mixture on full flame and didn’t have a wooden spoon. YIKES! I rushed to get the spoon and we managed to save it and our taffy turned out pretty good in the end so I was totally fine with it all.

Next week we work with the puff dough. My team (unfortunately with the same person but hopefully he steps it up this time) will be making Lemon Bouch├ęs. I am excited! Not something I can eat, but my Mom likes lemon so at least they will get eaten.

Tonight I worked on some cake balls a’ la Bakerella. So when I finish them tomorrow I will take pics and post. So far so good with them. They are chillin in the fridge overnight.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cake, Roulade, and Hello Kitty

So this week's lab was really fun. For some reason it was more tiring than other labs but I am not really sure why. :-) We took our mousse filled Roulade's and covered them in fresh made chocolate ganache and learned how to ice our cakes and decorate them.

First: the ganache. YUM comes to mind. All you do is heat heavy cream and corn syrup on the stove until just boiling and then remove and poor over finely chopped chocolate and let the heat do it's work. After you are able to stir it to ganache consistency it was ready. I had prepped the roulade with chocolate mouse and smoothed it with parchment paper. One of my team mates then poured the ganache all over the Roulade and we let it drip down the sides. It looked so good!! We did a pretty darn good job if I do say so myself. It looked amazing and tasted even better! Here is a picture of it before we put it in the cooler to chill. It looks awesome when you cut a piece. Kind of like a HoHo! haha

Next we moved on to making buttercream. We had a choice of making our own batch, working in groups of 2, or working in groups of 4. I wanted to do my own so I just told my team. haha I guess they probably could have done a batch together but we all ended up doing our own batch. Which worked out well because Chef noticed and gave us props for choosing to do our own. She said that making the buttercream is on our midterm. YAY! I did a pretty decent job. The recipe is kind of a sucky recipe and even Chef doesn't like it, but besides a bit of bubbles, mine turned out pretty good.

Fist we learned to trim the "crust edges" off of the outside of the cake. Easier said than done. But, at least I learned how to do it because it really does make the inside cut of the cake look a lot better. We then started with a crumb coat. And although my cake was a bit wonky and lopsided and I had to have a little help from our lab assistant to make sure I was really doing a crumb coat correctly (I had never really learned the proper way to do it), I was well on my way. I used the speed icer to coat the cake after the crumb coat and I created what was my smoothest buttercream cake yet! I have worked so hard in the past trying to get a cake to look flat and smooth and with the techniques we learned, I was able to do a pretty good job! I still need A LOT of practice but I was happy with it. I tinted the rest of my icing light pink and got to the borders.

The only guidelines she gave us was that we had to use some of the piping techniques we had currently practiced in class. I was scared to ruin my cake because pink on white....no turning back. But, all in all I did a pretty decent job. I am fairly confident with bead borders (more practice is needed obviously) but I was so paranoid to do the shells! But I went for it and again, not perfect but definitely my best go at it so far. YAY! That means I am getting better! I couldn't figure out what to put in the middle. My friend said that it looked like Hello Kitty should go in the middle. I got so excited and wanted to do that so bad...I mean, who doesn't love Hello Kitty??? haha But, without a picture I was afraid I would end up hating the cake. So, I tried to make some roses. Even though this is not something that was taught to us, I have done it previously. But, in the end, my buttercream had gotten too warm and even though the first rose I made looked pretty good, it fell right off of the base and slipped right on to the mixer. Ugh. I gave up. So, beaded border heart was what it was. I thought it kind of made the cake look a bit cheesy but oh well. I am still pretty proud of it for a rush job. So, first there is a pic of the cake so you can see the cheesy heart and the next is with a cut into the cake so you can see the pretty raspberry mousse filling with the white and pink icing. Pink and white...my kind of cake! haha

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Raspberry Mouse

So this week's baking lab was pretty simple. Well, I guess simple is the wrong word....

This week we were "building" on our cakes that we made last week. We made Roulade and Flex Cake that this week we learned mouse fillings for and how to cut and fill them. My team had decided to do the White Chocolate Mouse instead of the regular Chocolate Mouse until Chef said she would work with one team of advanced students to do Raspberry Mouse. She obviously was waiting for the right team to volunteer because hands went shooting up everywhere and she waited until my teammate raised his hand and she gave it to us! That was a compliment in itself because it was obvious that everyone wanted to do it but she didn't want to let just anyone do it and we have some pretty great students in our class.

So, we got our ingredients together and Chef came over to help. By that time another team had begged her to let them do it too, so there ended up being 5 of us (ours was a team of 3). It was awesome to have direct instruction from her, especially since we were all working with sheet gelatin for the first time. The only mistake we made (and this was because Chef was in a hurry and thought that we would be okay) was that the raspberry puree mixture wasn't cooled down enough when added to the whipped cream. Well, if you have worked with whipped cream before, you know that when you add something warm or hot to it, it melts. So, the gelatin didn't set up as quickly as it should have but after giving it a bit of refrigeration (with lots of checking on it to make sure it wasn't gelling on the top and sides) and some folding, it got up to a good consistency and we were able to fill our cakes.

We also learned the proper Pastry Chef way to level and cut a cake in half. Wow....a lot more difficult than it looks. Almost everyone in class had problems with it, even people like me who have experience leveling and cutting cakes. It will take some practice, but I see how it will be a more efficient way to do it.

We also filled our Roulade with leftover Chocolate Mouse from Chef's demo and rolled those. Well, I rolled mine. I had the other half of the one from the demo because each Roulade was cut in two and our team had 3 people. Well, our Roulade was put on the bottom of the stack when it was put in the freezer....to make a long story short it had to be thrown out because the one above ours was stuck to it. The parchment paper ripped the Roulade in half and it is very thin to begin with. Sadly, the one above ours had to be thrown out too because of the same problem. I was happy I decided to take the demo!

So, with our cakes cut, touched up with simple syrup, wrapped with plastic molds, filled with mouse and wrapped in plastic wrap, they were ready for the freezer. We got out way early too. Even after clean up we were still out an hour early. Next week will be the fun week. We will be icing and decorating both the cake and the Roulade. Not sure what the Roulade is going to look like but right now it looks like a Jelly Roll....or one of those things made at Christmas that look like wood logs....I can't remember what they are called! But, we will be making buttercream too! Let's hope it stays cool next week! The bakery was a scorcher this week with the temps in the 70s and 80s in Orange County.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Okay, so I decided to try another recipe from the Babycakes cookbook. This time I tried the Johnnycakes. I had no idea what they were and had never heard of them before this book. However, they are like a mix between a soft cookie and a scone.

I, of course, made some modifications. This time: sugar! haha So, after switching nothing but the flour (instead of spelt I used all-purpose gluten free flour) I realized that using that flour made the batter a bit too dry. So, I added about 1/4 c. baker's sugar first (it is finer and dissolves easier) and then started modifying using the current ingredients to get a better taste and a better consistency. I added some more coconut oil here, some more agave there, and a lot more hot water. Finally I found a good consistency and I scooped the batter.

I wasn't too sure how these were going to turn out as batter with gluten free all-purpose flour never tastes very good. Plus, this one also had uncooked cornmeal. Ick. haha But once I sprinkled some more sugar on top and baked them up, they came out pretty and very tasty. Better than the scones in my opinion. The sugar helped off-set the gluten free flour a bit and the agave drizzled on top adds a little more sweetness.

They taste like a cross between a dry scone and shortbread but with the consistency of a soft cookie. I enjoyed them. I have yet to share them with the non-gluten free community so we will see. I hope to get a verdict tomorrow. Although, the scones got an a-okay and I didn't like them. haha!

Here's a pretty picture:

Just a disclaimer regarding the Babycakes recipes: I am sure the recipes the way they are written are amazing. However, not all of their recipes are gluten free so with the modifications I have to make to make them gluten free, it takes away from the taste (therefore the adding sugar, etc). I hope to try one of their as written gluten free recipes soon.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Vegan Raspberry Scones

Okay, so today I decided to try a new recipe from my Babycakes NYC cookbook. With my Mom's birthday being Monday, I let her pick which ones I would make. So, raspberry it was. I wasn't too stoked on their use of spelt flour so I decided to use almond flour instead. Main reason is because I wanted to test out the flavor AND I am allergic to wheat. Although spelt is supposed to be easier to digest for those with wheat allergies I just didn't want to chance it.

For the most part, they turned out pretty good. I substituted the almond flour and away I went. It was a pretty simple recipe and went quickly. The end result was not too bad. However, even though I love Agave Nectar and use it for many things, I really wanted to taste a real sugar flavor in the scones. Especially since there was such a strong almond flavor. The almond flour did lend to a pretty moist scone though! So, although they taste pretty good and I would consider it a mild sucess, I think in the future I might use a little less almond flour, add in a bit of cornstarch for binding purposes, lessen the agave, and add some real sugar. I might even substitute out the coconut oil and use something like grapeseed. I will try that last. So, I might be making another batch tomorrow. :-)

All in all a pretty decent run for a first time vegan baking adventure. I am hoping to perfect the recipe to my liking though because I really love scones!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

School is underway!

Well, the school semester has begun. And it looks like it will be a fun and fantastic semester.

First day of school I did start the day by leaving a few minutes late. Although this didn't impact me like I thought it would, I got to school and as I was driving around looking for a parking spot (on a new side of campus for me) I realized I had forgotten my parking pass. Crapola! So, instead of putting a bunch of quarters in the meters, I thought it would be more cost effective to drive 3 parking lots over to get a day pass for $1. Although more economical, it was more time consuming leaving me with no choice but to park even FARTHER from my class. I managed to make it to class on time but was dying of an asthma attack by the time I got there and walked up the 3 flights of stairs. LOL

One of my friends from my classes last semester is also in all of my classes this semester! So, it was nice to get to my art class (2D color and design) and see a familiar face among all the art majors. That class seems like it is going to be a lot of fun and I am totally looking forward to it. It is going to be a lot of "doodling" so to speak. A lot more is involved and I am looking forward to sharing my projects!

Speaking of, even though this isn't baking related, it is art related. I am very proud of a present that I drew for a friend for her birthday. She is a HUGE Twilight series fan. So, wanting to try something challenging, I drew the cover of the book of Twilight for her. Here it is:

I was pretty proud of it and she seemed to really like it.

So, today I had my first baking lab of the new semester. This semester is going to be so much fun! Our class seems like a good group. We had 5 of us in there from the same lab last semester and another guy who was in a different lab, but was also in my math class. So, it was nice to go in and know people. And this semester is going to be a lot of cakes! We are going to learn fillings and icings, etc. There are a couple of more challenging things but I am looking forward to them. In May the school has a night for all the Honors students. Well, our class prepares the desserts. So, in lieu of a lab final for the class, we put in work for the Honors Night celebration.

Today we practiced piping skills. She had us use whipped up butter instead of buttercream icing so it would be something that we could use again. Good idea. I am so going to practice on butter at home! Way cheaper than making buttercream. Anyway, we had to get used to those big pastry bags you see them using on TV on all the bakery shows and cake competitions. WAY different than what I am used to using from my Wilton classes! Same concept, bigger bags. We also have a Chef's assistant this semester so we get more one on one time with someone that can help us with technique. She was very helpful in showing me some things as I have not piped a shell border for over a year! After the piping lessons, we moved on to chocolate.

WOOHOO! That was a total blast. I thought mine looked awful but Chef and the assistant both said it looked great. Then Chef asked me if I had taken art classes. (teehee) I just answered "Well, umm....yeah." She laughed and said that it was obvious. I didn't think so from the piping I was doing but I was going to take the compliment. HAHA! While everyone was practicing, Chef and her assistant were standing right next to me chatting about chocolate and cookies, etc with me. I mentioned my cookies I made over Christmas and pulled out my cell to show them a picture. Before I got to the cookie picture, I came across the Twilight drawing above. Chef said "You DREW that?!" I said yes. She turned to the assistant and said "Can you imagine how awesome she will be in the pastry class?" Oh MY Gosh! I of course was super excited inside. Well, for 2 reasons. 1. That is a huge compliment in my book and 2. Maybe that will get me IN to that class in the fall seeing as I have a problem with the internship class and getting into it! LOL

All in all it has been a great 2 days. Tomorrow I go back to 2D design and then we have lecture for baking. I am really looking forward to this semester as we are finally going to be doing cakes and stuff that I have been wanting to learn.


Happy February (And Groundhogs Day!)!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Beginning of the year baking

So I started off the year with a bag full of lemons from my Dad's lemon tree. I tried to figure out something to do with them. I found a gluten free version of lemon bars that sounded so good. I had a girls party to go to so I thought I would try to make them for that.

Well, luckily my friend Christy LOVES lemons and wanted some so I decided to do a practice batch. I have never made anything like lemon bars so it was definitely a new experience for me! Well, to make them gluten free was not so different from making them regular. It was a mixture of white rice flour and cornstarch with powdered sugar to make the shortbread for the crust. It actually tasted pretty good but I had some problems with it puffing up so much that it had too much of a cookie taste then lemon bar. The lemon bar mixture used cornstarch as a thickener but had so much sugar in it that the top crystalized like a creme brulee. However, this did create a new texture that was actually kind of cool.

Well, the second batch didn't set up as well and at the girls party we ended up just scooping it out of the pan! haha But, both batches still tasted pretty good. I didn't take pictures of either though, because they didn't look pretty at all! So, even though they tasted pretty good I think I might tweak the recipe next time and experiment or just find a new recipe all together to make use of the lemons!

So, the other day I was online looking for gluten free items and BAM! Betty Crocker is now making gluten free mixes!!! WHAT?!?!?!? Yes, it is true. Betty Crocker is my new best friend. :-) And guess what else? They sell it at Ralph's!! Mainstream grocery stores are selling gluten free cake and brownie mixes! Finally! So, when in the grocery store the other day, I grabbed a box of the Betty Crocker Gluten Free Brownie Mix.

Today I decided to try out the brownies and I have to say....YUM! Best gluten free mix I have tasted so far! I still have to test it out on the non-gluten free folk but it seems pretty promising. I can't wait to try out the cake mix! If the cake mix is anything like the brownie mix then we have a winner. Finally something I can use for my gluten free friends when they want birthday cakes from me. (For those that don't know, I decorate cakes as well).

<-- YUM

The result. YUM YUM YUM!

UPDATE: The vote is in from the non-gluten free eaters. The verdict is still YUM!