Monday, September 29, 2008

So much to say, so little time

I totally owe the blog a post. And I have plenty to blog about: three cakes, doughnuts and corn muffins. I just don't have a free second at the moment. Although I did find the time to hit up the Greek Food Festival this weekend at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. The festival has been going on for years (like close to fifty) and the last time I went I think it was part of a high school field trip so I was looking forward to attending for the first time in 10 years. I had a delicious Gyro and some great Greek desserts - including baklava, a total necessity if attending a Greek food festival. There was not much baking happening in my kitchen this weekend. Just some cookies (peanut butter and chocolate chip), but nothing too special. I promise a way better post with pictures will come along soon...maybe Wednesday morning. But don't hold your breath...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sooo Good...

I have fallen behind a little bit in the blogging lately, mostly because I have been doing a lot of baking - at home and in the bakeshop. At least there is lots to share.

Several months ago Jacque requested an Andes Mint Cheesecake for her birthday and because she is such a great friend I was happy to oblige. Her birthday was a couple weeks ago, but she has been traveling a lot recently so this past weekend was the perfect opportunity to bake it.

Andes Mint Cheesecake

Andes Mint Presentation

This is the second time I have baked the Andes Mint cheesecake and I was pretty pleased with the outcome. The oven I used was not the best and caused some issues with baking time, but it all worked out eventually. I did get a little more creative with the presentation this time and even made some fresh whipped cream for the cake. I think it looks pretty darn cute.

Monday and Tuesday in the bakeshop I was back to baking breads - quick and yeast. Monday we prepped our yeast dough for Tuesday class. Both doughs were made using a Sponge Method which basically increases the fermentation process, adding more flavor to the final product. After our doughs were done, we made our quick breads: Irish Soda Bread and Popovers (the pic below is kinda blurry).

L: Irish Soda Bread, R: Popovers

On Tuesday, we came in ready to bake some bread after our dough had the chance to ferment overnight. We made French bread again, but as I mentioned above, we used a different mixing method. I really can't say enough about have fresh, homemade French baguettes.

French bread

The second dough we made was the rich sweet dough which we used to make cinnamon rolls. I can't even tell you how delicious they were. We made a honey pan glaze for the bottom of the pan that melted as the rolls baked to give some added flavor; we made a clear glaze to give the rolls some extra sheen; and we made the flat icing to drizzle over the rolls to add both color and flavor. I am usually on top of taking pictures of everything, but I was so excited about the cinnamon rolls I totally forgot about taking a pic until I had it all bagged up. I'm thinking this recipe might make an appearance in North Carolina over the holidays.

Cinnamon Rolls

Monday, September 22, 2008

Baking with Laura

A couple weeks ago, Laura asked me if I would help her make some burnt orange cupcakes for a work party and of course I acquiesced. It's always fun to bake and even more fun throw out concepts like gluten development and overmixing to those not familiar with the trade. This was also the first time Laura had ever made cupcakes from scratch so it was great to be able to teach someone else how fun baking is...although I don't foresee her whipping up anymore homemade treats in the near future.

Laura and her handiwork

Laura rocking the Cupcake Courier!

I heard they went over well at the office...even her boss (a big Sooner fan) couldn't resist the burnt orange! Good job, Laura!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bluebonnets in September?!

Are you tired of the basket weave cakes? Because I am. We have our practical midterm next Wednesday and have to do a basket weave cake with flowers so Thursday was our last day to practice. I did take this opportunity to work on the Bluebonnet. Actually, this cake might be my favorite to date. I love the colors, I love the flowers and I worked with buttercream icing instead of whipped icing. Usually I don't take my cakes home (with the exception of Kathryn's birthday cake) but I thought this cake was too cute to leave for the bake sale. Laura came over to bake cupcakes on Thursday evening (more on that in a future post) so I gave the cake to Laura and James. I hope it was yummy!



Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hamburger & Fries

Yesterday in cake deco we were introduced to "character" cakes. Our task was to create a hamburger, french fries, and milkshake. It was a lot of fun and I was totally pleased with my final product.

Hamburger, French Fries and a Milk Shake

Back of the Cake

The bun and french fries were colored using an airbrush. It's a little difficult to see all the items, but my burger is decked out with cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion and topped off with a little ketchup, mustard & mayo. You can't really see the burger pattie (chocolate fudge icing. not a real burger. but I am sure you knew that), but it's in there, I promise.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bakin' Up a Storm

It was quite the busy day in the bakeshop today! On Monday we learned about yeast doughs and didn't really have time to bake so Tuesday we had to play catch up. Since we were working with yeast bread it took some time management to make sure we could get everything done in three hours. We prepared our bread dough on Monday so it could ferment overnight. Today we started by folding (removing all the excess gas), scaling (portion the dough into loaves), rounding (shaping the portioned dough into loaves), benching (allowing the dough to rest) & proofing (continues the fermenting process and increases the volume) our bread doughs. While we waited for our breads to proof we made some quick breads. First we whipped up some brown sugar muffins. About the time those were ready to go into the oven, we were ready to take our breads out of the proofer and move them to the oven to bake. While items 1-3 were baking we made scones. Everything turned out so wonderfully and so yummy! It was actually quite nice [awesome] to have some fresh baked french bread that I baked with dinner. I put the white pan bread in the freezer to save for a rainy day.

Brown Sugar Muffins


French Baguette

White Pan Bread

Monday, September 15, 2008

Locks of Love

I have been talking for months and months about cutting off my hair and donating it and this weekend I finally did it! It was quite a shock after having such long hair for so many years.



y Locks of Love

I think I ended up getting approximately 13-14 inches cut; the ponytail was about 12 inches.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Birthday Weekend Extravaganza

This weekend was full of birthday fun! Two of my closest friends share a birthday on September 13. Poor Jacque had her big birthday plans destroyed by Hurricane Ike so Friday night we went to dinner at Cafe Madrid to celebrate. After some yummy tapas and sangria, we all shared some birthday flan & other desserts.

Birthday Flan

After dinner we headed to Jacque's favorite wine bar, Wine-tastic where Jacque was treated to more birthday dessert!

Jac's Chocolate Cake

Me and Jacque

It may not have been a luxury box at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium to watch the Texas game, but we still had a good time...and ALOT of laughs!

Saturday was Kathryn's day. Hurricane Ike ruined our original plans, but we found a suitable replacement activity: bowling! It had been a while since I last bowled and I had a little trouble knocking over the pins...

My Stellar Bowling Skills


And because it was a birthday, there was plenty of dessert! Val brought Kathryn some delicious cupcakes from TART.

Yummy Cupcakes

The Birthday Girl

I, of course, decorated a cake in class for my roommate. Kathryn loves basket weave cakes so it was kind of serendipity that we learned the basket weave this week.

Happy Birthday, Kathryn

All in all it was a fun weekend. Although I think I don't need to see another dessert for a while...which will be a challenge considering I am studying to be a baker.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Basket Weave

I've been talking up my blog a lot lately so I figured I should probably actually write an entry before I start to lose what few readers I actually have left. (I think my mom and dad have already stopped reading. They always liked Tommy more...)

Anyway, I learned the basket weave in cake decorating this week. It's somewhat time consuming, but according to our cake deco teacher that just means we can charge more if we start doing wedding cakes [with a basket weave].

the basket weave

I know it looks a little amateur...the next one looks better, I promise. But I do like the yellow & white combo. I also started trying to master some flowers. Because who wants a cake without flowers?!

floral design

a closeup of the roses

My purple flowers are roses and the pink flower is supposed to be a chrysanthemum. It didn't really turn out so well...I think that will take a little more practice.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Biscuits and Banana Bread

Yesterday was my first day baking. We work in groups of three and usually have two formulas (recipes. because it's like chemisty, but funner!) to bake. Right now we are baking breads. We started with quick breads making biscuits and banana nut bread. Here are some pics of our team's work:


Banana Nut Bread

Fundamentals is proving to be an interesting class. There are so many things to consider when baking, like gluten development, that I never really knew about. I guess that's why I am in school. I could go into it further, but I am not sure how interested people would find it. If you want to know more, let me know, and I will be happy to share all my new found knowledge.

Monday, September 8, 2008

'Burnt Orange' Velvet Cupcakes: The Sweet Smell (and taste) of Success

I did it! After last weekend's somewhat failed attempt (I can't call it a complete failure because it helped in making this weekend's success) I was determined to get it right. Appropriately, my adventures in cupcake coloring took place during the UT game so we could indulge in a sweet treat to celebrate Texas' commanding win. Let's just hope we can (and by we, I mean Mack Brown and the Longhorns) be this successful all season long. Because I don't think I can take losing to OU this year.

I've been talking about the burnt orange cupcakes for quite a while now. Some people questioned why I insisted on turning red velvet burnt orange instead of simply making a white batter and coloring it orange. My reasons were three-fold:
  1. I am stubborn and determined. I decided that I wanted burnt orange velvet and I wasn't going to stop until I got burnt orange velvet. Luckily, it only took two tries;
  2. I like the rich flavor of red velvet; and
  3. There is something satisfying about taking something red and transforming it to burnt orange (because it all goes back to the old college rivalry. OU sucks!).

Looks like I'm off to a good start...

Perfectly burnt orange

Texas Fight!

Now that I have the perfect cupcake recipe for football season I can focus on other things. Like school. We start baking in Fundamentals tomorrow!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Colors, Flowers, and Borders, OH MY!

My fellow Americans ...errr, blog readers, it's been a busy week. I didn't have time to post so I have two days worth of cake decorating to share with everyone. Wednesday we introduced color into the mix and Thursday we started working with the rose tip (also known as the petal tip) and making flowers.

Here is Tuesday's cakes...a little experimentation with color:

Bottom: 'e' border, top: rope border

On Wednesday, we worked with quarter sheet cakes. We learned how to do all sorts of flowers, but unfortunately I didn't have enough time or cake to try everything. I really wanted to do a bluebonnet so I think I am going to try that next week. Because when you live in Texas how can you not have the bluebonnet in your flower repertoire?!? I also experimented with some different borders.

Flower cake with Ribbon Border

Flower spray of Rosebuds

Flower spray of Daisies

Things are really moving quickly. Next week we learn the basket weave which should be fun.

Monday, September 1, 2008

'Burnt Orange' Velvet Cupcakes: Attempt #1

It's the last weekend of summer, but the first weekend of college football, so there was plenty reason to celebrate. Accordingly, I baked some cupcakes to help ring the inaugural game of the 2008 Texas Longhorn football season. One of the benefits of living in Texas again is I can actually watch my Longhorns play as opposed to be subjected to the inferior ACC conference weekend after weekend (no offense to fans of the ACC).

This summer, after baking a red velevet cake, I formulated an absolutely genius idea: 'burnt orange' velvet cupcakes. If I can make a cake red, surely I can make it orange? You might be able to guess the results from the title of this entry. Burnt orange cupcakes...still red.

They're still red...

but they looked cute!

My real goal is to get it right by Oct. 11 (TX-OU weekend). I think Attempt #2 will be next weekend and I already have some ideas on how to change the color so stay tuned...