31 August 2014

Week 15: Wedding Cake Week at Bonnie Gordon College

To say I was excited about Wedding Cake week would be an understatement. I had been looking forward to this week since before I started my four month Diploma Programme!

If you haven't picked up on it by now, I'll lay it out for you: cake decorating is my favourite thing EVER! Sure, baking has it's place, but cake decorating will always have a very tight grip on my heart.

So a whole 5 days of no baking, just decorating? Heaven!

Our wedding cake was an unmarked assignment, but we were given a fake client and a brief of what they wanted. After getting a "male garden and landscape designer" client during my first term exam, I was really hoping for something a bit more girly and I was not disappointed!

My clients were having a "small" 70 person wedding at the National Ballet, and their guests would be sitting through a performance of Romeo & Juliet. They were having a dessert table, and wanted their wedding cake to match their colour scheme of blush pink, peach, mint green and sea foam blue. The only design stipulation was that they wanted it to feel "romantic".

If you've seen any of my work, you would have noticed that my designs tend to be more on the clean cut, simple side of cake decorating. I guess I'm just not generally a "fussy" person, and although this theme could have been taken in a direction full of ruffles, bows, and a garden of flowers, I really wanted to keep in my own style.




Watercolour painted cakes are a current trend that I am absolutely loving in the industry at the moment. I'm big on pastel colours, and the beautiful ombre effects that you can get with the watercolour painting just make me so happy. When I found out I would be working with pastel colours, I knew I wanted to start painting. I'd never done it before, and neither had any of the teachers in the school at the time, so I just made it up as I went along! Luckily it worked out!

I love cakes that have small, unexpected details that you may not even notice until you really look at them up close. The tiny piped hearts were that for me; simple, delicate and oh so cute.


Flowers also came into play with some peach roses, a pink feature fantasy flower with gold and pearl centre button, sea foam blue berries and mint coloured leaves. Gum paste flowers are definitely a new skill I've learnt at Bonnie Gordon College that I'm really enjoying and looking forward to expanding on.



The full cake. Photos just don't really do it justice - or maybe it's just my photography that doesn't! The colours just seemed to pop more in real life while being softer at the same time, and the details such as the piping and gold crimped edges were far more enticing.

My photography has definitely improved this year, but I still have a long way to go.

This was our last big assignment before final exams, and what a fun one to finish the course on!


29 August 2014

Bonus class: Wafer Paper Flowers with Susan Trianos

The Diploma Programme that I was taking (yep, was - that's right, I have now finished!) at Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts was a very intense 16 week programme.

There was a lot of studying to do, physically draining days, and assignments & reading that needed to be completed out of hours. It was exhausting. It was also incredible.

So on those precious weekends that I had to relax, and recover, and take in some tourist sights of Toronto, what do I do? Sign up for an extra class of course!

Bonnie Gordon College recently launched a range of "short and sweet classes", and this particular class on Wafer Paper Blooms taught by the incredible Susan Trianos was just 3 hours!

Susan Trianos teaching Wafer Paper Blooms at Bonnie Gordon College

Never heard of Susan Trianos? I admit, before coming to Canada I hadn't either. Shame on me though, for Susan has been in the industry for over 25 years and has many achievements to her name.

More importantly though, Susan is an incredible teacher and oh so lovely!

During the short 3 hour class she taught us about the benefits of using wafer paper for cake flowers as opposed to gum paste (easier, quicker, cheaper, lighter!), along with the downsides (too much water = disaster), and how to use the medium.

We learnt 3 types of flowers during this short class, including simple hydrangeas, ranunculus and a rose.

Wafer Paper Ranunculus, Hydrangeas & Rose taught by Susan Trianos

Unfortunately for me I was coming down with a dreadful cold this particular weekend, so as enjoyable as the class was I was glad it only lasted 3 hours! It also allowed me the rest of the day to do whatever I pleased - in this case, stay in bed with soup. There's just something so enjoyable about a short class, especially after the usual long days of the Diploma Programme.

I cannot wait to use these techniques on a cake in the future, and practise more wafer paper flowers!




25 August 2014

Bonnie Gordon College Week 14: Bread Week!

Oh boy - bread week. Just the name sounds delicious. It was delicious.

Multigrain Bread

I wouldn't go as far as saying it was the most fun week at Bonnie Gordon College, but it was pretty up there! Not everybody likes desserts (shock horror!), but everybodyyyy likes bread.

I don't normally eat a lot of the stuff, but it is pretty much my favourite food in the world. I could eat it all day every day... and being a poor student, I did! Free food? Heck yes!

Unsurprisingly, I also gained a couple of kilo's during this week.

Mini Croissants

There was literally so much bread I gave some of it away, and froze the rest... I've only just finished eating my freezer stash now, 2 weeks later.

So what did we make during this wonderful, amazing, fabulous week of bread?

It was actually a very interesting week because the breads had to be made in different stages. We were working on so many different types at once that even I forgot what we were making sometimes! One minute we would be making a "Poolish starter" for a baguette, the next we'd be making a "soaker" for multigrain bread, and then we'd be whipping up some croissant dough! Crazy times!

Chocolate Croissant

During the week we made the following;

  • Honey Whole Wheat Sandwich Loaf
  • Ciabatta
  • Pita Bread
  • Baguettes
  • Multigrain bread
  • Brioche
  • Danish Pastries
  • Croissants & Chocolate Croissants

Some students also made some cinnamon buns, but I passed and stuck with chocolate filled brioche. Mmm-mmm!

Chocolate Filled Brioche

Doesn't it all look so delicious? If every week was bread week I think I'd have to roll myself home!

We had instructor Michael Smith for bread week, and as always his very calm approach to teaching made it an incredibly enjoyable experience. I can't wait to get back into a kitchen and make these delicious breads again!



16 August 2014

Pies, Tarts & Choux Pastry at Bonnie Gordon College

After Haute Couture cakes finished up recently, we were thrown into four days of pastry.

First up was pies & tarts with instructor Charmain Baan.

Having never worked with pastry before (except for pulling sheets of puff out of the freezer!), this was all new and a bit overwhelming at first. It ended up not being as difficult as I expected, and turned out to be a very enjoyable week. An added bonus in pastry week, was that we got to make a quiche - and eat it for lunch! Mmm-mmm!

Don't tell my mother this but this was pretty much my first "home-cooked" meal since I'd left Australia in March! Oops!

My favourite mini project for the week were these tiny bite-sized chocolate tarts. They were both adorable and delicious! I think I ate at least a dozen of them in one sitting. Double oops!


Bite-Size Chocolate Tarts

There was something satisfying about making pastry from scratch, although I'm not sure I would bother with home made puff pastry in future. I know it tastes better, but geeze - at what cost?! So much rolling, and turning, and waiting, and rolling, and turning, and waiting! Exhausting.

The week also introduced me to the Canadian specialty of Butter Tarts. I'd heard a lot about these little treats that were apparently terribly bad for you, yet deliciously worth it.

Canadian specialty - Butter Tarts

I wasn't convinced at first, but after 2 or 3 I began to come around and understand the enjoyment. Still, in future I think I'll stick to the chocolate tarts. That's where my heart truly belongs.

After pies and tarts wrapped up, it was onto Choux Pastry with Michael Smith. I admit I was a little terrified, but Michael is such a calm teacher that it was all okay.

We got to play around with profiteroles, pastry cream & caramel and created these cute little french desserts called "Gateau St. Honoré".

French dessert "Gateau St. Honoré"

But of course, the show stoppers for choux pastry are the decorated eclairs that you see all over the Bonnie Gordon College advertising! It's no wonder, when they're so pretty and so delicious!


Pastry cream filled eclairs

All in all, I think pastry week was a success! I'd really like to play around with the eclairs some more and try some different decorating techniques with them. I'd also like to make more chocolate tarts. Lots and LOTS of chocolate tarts.



3 August 2014

Haute Couture Cakes at Bonnie Gordon College

After exams wrapped up last Thursday, we were introduced to Haute Couture cakes at Bonnie Gordon College on Friday.



The fabulous Marisa Blackburn from MarissKiss was our instructor for this two day class, sharing her expertise in these stunning cakes.

I was first introduced to the Haute Couture Cake style by Lori Hutchinson, aka The Caketress, back when I first started decorating 2 years ago. While I missed out on learning from Lori herself, I was very much looking forward to this class and I was not disappointed.

The whole class did an amazing job!

Haute Couture Cakes by Pamela, Myself, Rosa and Lily

While I'm not a very "glittery" person generally, for some reason with this project I was drawn to sequins and everything sparkly!

I eventually settled on this dress as my inspiration. While it may not have been considered as "haute couture" as most inspirations, being a more affordable dress I felt it would be something a bit more realistic that a bride might ask me to recreate in cake form.




Unfortunately the photos don't quite do the sparkles justice, but I have been covered in 'disco dust' for the entire week!

Nothing wrong with being a bit sparkly, right?




27 July 2014

BGC Weeks 10, 11 & 12 AKA the case of the missing blogger

Three weeks with no blog updates - don't worry, I'm still alive!

July has been one crazy month. Do I "eat, sleep & breathe" confectionary art? This month I definitely have been! This past week was mid-term exams, and I must admit my stress levels reached a new height.

Not only did I disappear from blogging, I also disappeared from Instagram for 2 weeks, and when I wasn't at college I barely left my bedroom. There just wasn't enough time in the day to study all the things I needed to!

Let's just say it was very lucky that a slight amount of sanity remained for me to venture out and do grocery shopping and laundry every now and then. Phew!

But what did I get up to during these past few weeks?

Week 10 was all about figure modelling. For the whole week we worked on a bride and groom wedding cake topper. If I haven't mentioned it before in this blog, although I'm sure I would have, here's something you need to know about me. I have an extremely short attention span. To work on one thing for a whole week? Torture.

As my mind wandered, the less inclined I was to make a "happy couple".


Things got weird.

Week 11 was much more mixed up, however Monday was all about Composed Cakes which we knew was coming up on our mid-term exams the next week. Talk about stressful!

What is a composed cake? Basically, a cake that is put together with a variety of layers consisting of different flavours and textures. A cake that supposedly looks as beautiful inside as it does out!



We then delved into baking for allergies which I found quite enjoyable to be honest, although I must say I am very grateful to not have any allergies myself. It was definitely a very important topic to cover.

Friday brought us Petit Fours which was an interesting day, and one full of French words. The class was talking about 'guimauve' for a good 20 minutes before I finally figured out they were talking about marshmallows. Talk about confusing!

Soon enough it was week 12 and mid-terms. I still have a knot in my stomach just thinking about it. We all know that decorating is my strong point, and baking not as much. This exam had no decorating at all - at least, not fondant decorating. Ack!

We had to present a variety of recipes including Dark Chocolate Fruit Truffles and these White Chocolate Bon Bons which had an Earl Grey Ganache filling.


Checkerboard Cookies from the very beginning of our course were up next.


Followed by the Composed Cake and another Passionfruit Mousse Cake.



It was probably the most stressful week I have ever experienced. I am just thankful that I managed to present all recipes and the chocolates actually came out of their moulds, unlike the last time!


So what do you do to relieve stress at the end of an exam like that? Smash up the cakes of course!


Who needs therapy when you can just smash up a cake you spent a whole day working on?



6 July 2014

Montage: June 2014

It's a week late, but my latest video montage is up on YouTube!

This month found me settling into a bit of a 'rut' as I get used to living in this strange new environment (get used to? Psh, I'll never be used to this crazy weather!), and being wrapped up in my studies and swing dancing classes.




With mid terms coming up in a couple of weeks and this term being more about baking and specialty skills rather than cake decorating (my strength), I am throwing myself into an intense study regime.

Wish me luck! This Diploma Programme seems like it will only get more and more intense until the end!



Pin It button on image hover