First Week at Pastry School

Hey All!

I’m writing to you from the other side of my first week of pastry school! It looks much better from over here, not nearly as nerve-wracking.

I started the Garnish Your Degree program at the North Miami campus of Johnson & Wales this week. This program is for people like me, who already have a Bachelor’s degree in something totally useless in the real world (for me, English). The program is nine months of classes, and an internship. After this, you’ll have your Associates degree in Baking & Pastry! It sounded like a pretty good deal for me, so I took the plunge.

The night before my first day, I was so freaking nervous. I read and re-read the uniform policy. I ironed all my chef jacket and pants to perfection. I even ironed my hat. The result? This:

Please notice the pleats.

The program consists of all labs, which are roughly nine days each. My first lab was Chocolates and Confections. I walk in on the first day and immediately notice that my neckerchief is the wrong color. It’s supposed to be green! All of my preparation was ruined, and I feared the chef would kick me out of class. When he did arrive, we spent a good amount of time handing out papers, going over the syllabus, and receiving our pastry kits and books. The kit includes different knives and tools that we would keep for the whole year. After that, Chef told us to line up in the hall for a uniform check. I panicked. But, it turns out that he is a really nice guy, and simply told me to get the right color by the next day. I finally relaxed a little bit.

After this, Chef spent a few hours giving a lecture on the different kinds of chocolate, how chocolate is made and class procedures. It was kind of surreal to be not only back at school, surrounded by 18-year-olds, but to be taking notes on chocolate. After this, Chef gave a demonstration on how to temper chocolate and how to make ganache. Then, we broke into groups and made ganache ourselves. It was great to be doing something on the first day! We piped them to make the inside of truffles, and left them overnight.

The second day, we molded (or at least tried to) the truffles. Most of ours weren’t quite round, but more of an oblong shape. But, it was the first time for many of us, including me. We also learned about different fillings for pralines, and started making a peanut butter filling. This is me pouring it between two metal bars to mold it.

On the third day, it was finally my turn to temper the chocolate. It’s harder than it looks!

We also made more fillings, including a mocha and a raspberry. After they’re hardened, these fillings need to be cut and dipped in chocolate.

At 6 hours, this is a long lab. And at the end of each day, we have to do a major cleaning. Dishes, floors, tables, everything has to be cleaned and is inspected by the chef when we’re done. The first couple of days, I came home exhausted and with a serious headache. But by day 3 and 4, I was no longer super tired and no headaches! I’m gradually getting used to it.

Next week, more chocolate! We’ll be making molded pralines and hopefully a chocolate showpiece. I was unsure at first, but so far, I’m really glad I’m doing this!

Thanks for reading!

Don’t Call it a Comeback

After one year of neglect, I’m back. And better than ever. I decided to revive my blog because I’m starting baking and pastry school in two weeks! Yes, I finally took the plunge, and registered at Johnson & Wales North Miami. I’m a little nervous; after all, I’ve been out of school for three years now, and I don’t know what to expect. But ultimately, I’m looking forward to it. And I’ll be sharing it all here on the blog along the way.

Wish me luck!

I am a terrible blogger–update and dulce de leche

This is my first blog post since April, and I am really angry with myself. But I have been really busy spending time at an actual bakery! I have made tons of goodies over the past few months, and took pictures of most of them, because I knew I would get back to blogging at some point. To start off with, here are some really yummy cupcakes I made this morning. They’re devil’s food cupcakes with dulce de leche topping. So delicious!

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Easter Treats!

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I got so excited over all the treats I was seeing on food blogs and in real life that I thought I was going to die. I knew I had to try something myself. Then I had a brilliant idea: cupcakes with Cadbury Creme Eggs in the middle! I wanted to make them fast so I bought a yellow cake mix, the eggs, and some pink frosting. This was more about testing out the idea than testing out original recipes.

Here are my eggs, and the cake mix with the eggs, water, and oil.

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Next, I filled six of the twelve cupcakes with a creme egg, and covered them in batter.

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Meanwhile, I also started working on this butterfly shaped caked that I saw on the back of the Easter M&M’s bag. It’s quite simple; bake a 9″ cake, cut it in half, and cut out a little piece for the wings. When the cupcakes came out, they looked normal.

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I piped some pink frosting on and got prepared to taste the yummy chocolaty goo inside.

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But unfortunately, they were kind of gross. Maybe it was because I didn’t use high-quality chocolate. I’m not sure. But they were not yummy.

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But then, on the regular cupcakes, I used some of the aforementioned M&M’s to make a pretty flower.

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And my butterfly cake came out well too! I am definitely going to incorporate M&M’s into my decorating repertoire.

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A Birthday Visit

My little brother Eddie came down to Miami from Boston to visit me, and his birthday is this month. Of course, I had to make him a cake. All I did was make a cake from a box. It was funfetti! For the frosting, I used the Sturdy Whipped Cream frosting that I have used before. As for the decorations, I didn’t get too crazy because I was kind of hung over when I made it.

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Green Tea Cupcakes

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I’ve been looking for interesting ingredients for cakes, and while browsing on allrecipes.com, I came across this recipe for Green Tea Layer Cake. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any batteries for my camera, so I didn’t get any pictures of the baking process. But, these cupcakes were pretty tasty. I followed the recipe for both the cake and the frosting. However, like many of the reviewers, I had to add extra matcha to get a green tea taste. Both the cake and frosting turned out a pretty green though. I decorated my cupcakes with chocolate transfers, which I learned to do from Melody at mysweetandsaucy.com, which is an excellent blog!

All said, these cupcakes were hard to resist!

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Valentine’s Day Part Deux: Red Velvet Cupcakes

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I couldn’t get away with doing only one Valentine’s Day recipe! I decided to make cupcakes. And, as Red Velvet is the favorite for V-Day, I went with a Martha recipe, Red Velvet Chocolate Cake.

I lined my cupcake pan with some cute heart paper liners.

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I then made the colorful cake batter in my KitchenAid.

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Then I filled the cupcake tin. Unfortunately, I filled them rather high and didn’t have enough batter for all 12.

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They looked beautiful when I took them out!

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Next, it was time to make the Sturdy Whipped Cream frosting that I had been wanting to try for quite some time.

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It was so incredibly tasty. The almond extract really gives it a nice flavor. I used a closed star tip to decorate my cupcakes. The looked so beautiful, and tasted amazing!

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