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!

Bonnie Gordon College Week 9

What a short week!

I enjoyed a wonderful 4 day weekend for Canada Day with a visit from my best friend, and spending a lot of time relaxing. Definitely a needed break with all this crazy studying and school stress!

The 3 day week let us complete our sugar work, and introduced us to a topic I had been very much looking forward to: Macarons!

Sugar Work was a bit less painful this week as I discovered, due to my skins heat sensitivity, I needed to prepare my hands with band-aids on each finger and 2 - 3 layers of gloves on top of that. It also made the medium a bit more enjoyable to work with, although still difficult as I didn't have quite the same control as you would with less bandaged hands!

To warm up I created a creepy looking duck, and then got busy with this cute little snowman. His hat had to be made twice, as the first time the table I was working on buckled which both gave me a heart attack and also shattered the sugar that was sitting on it. The scary dramas that come with heat lamps!

"Do you wanna build a snowman?"

After that we decided to work on a display piece as a group. An underwater theme inspired by this 'sleazy' pineapple that one of the girls had made - because pineapples and underwater themes go together, naturally!

"Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?"

So too, do snowmen and birds apparently.

After my initial dislike of sugar work, I must admit I was a little sad to be finished with the topic. Perhaps this may be a new hobby I can play with in the future.

No time to be sad though, because Thursday was Macaron day! We got to make Coconut Macarooons first, and then some Rocher which were incredible. Nothing could stop me from snacking on them all day long.

"Rocher" from the French 'boulder or rock' 

Then onto Swiss Meringue, French Meringue and Italian Meringue Macarons! Fillings for mine included salted chocolate caramel ganache, chocolate hazelnut ganache, and swiss meringue buttercream. Mmm-mmmmmmmmm!

They definitely weren't as scary as everyone makes them sound, although I think I have Mardi to thank for introducing me to Macarons when I first arrived in Toronto and taking away that scare-factor.

Salted Chocolate Caramel & Chocolate Hazelnut Macarons

Which is my favourite recipe of the 3? Hmm, let me taste test...

Mmm... yummm... mmm-mmm... om nom nom...

The Verdict: I think I would have liked the Italian Meringue the best - but for something a little different we made Hazelnut Chocolate Italian Meringues which aren't really my thing. I do love chocolate, just not so much when it comes to a Macaron. I think I'll need to try them again with the normal recipe.

Oh, and just as a by the way: here's another look at what is a Macaron and what is a Macaroon...

Macaron vs Macaroon - get it right!

A Macaron has a smooth top and 'foot' at the base, sandwiched with a filling. Macaroons are more rustic with no filling (although sometimes dipped in chocolate).


28 June 2014

Bonnie Gordon College Week 8

This past week flew by so quickly, it was almost a blur!

So much was jam-packed into the 5 days it feels like Monday was forever ago. I can't remember too many details so here's a quick run down instead.

Monday and Tuesday introduced us to Egg-Foam Cakes & Mousse Cakes. What's an Egg-Foam cake you say? Well, if you're in Australia you might be more familiar with the term Sponge Cake. They contain no leavening agents and just use the eggs ability to retain air.

I must admit I'm not the hugest fan of Egg-Foam cakes. I am a die hard mud cake fan, I want my cakes to be dense and moist. Egg-Foam cakes which are very light and fluffy just aren't my thing.

This Passionfruit Mousse Cake, a combination of an Egg-Foam cake and Mousse cake, was a hit with everyone who tried it though!

Passionfruit Mousse Cake

I also made a chocolate sponge roll with both hazelnut buttercream and whipped chocolate ganache. It was heavenly - although not so pretty!

Wednesday and Thursday brought us sculpted cakes - woohoo! I love a good sculpting session. There's just something about hacking into a cake that takes me to a happy place.

I had planned to sculpt a simple shape, like an apple. However, feeling uninspired by the simple designs, I ended up taking on a project that could have been a bit too much for a short 2 day class.

Luckily, I managed to finish in time. Phew! Introducing Walter the baby Unicorn!

Walter the baby Unicorn - Sculpted Cake
One major thing I had issues with this week was the humidity. Firstly, if it were up to me I would never, ever, EVER make a sculpted cake with buttercream. It just doesn't make logical sense. Having to sculpt for 20 minutes, then refrigerate for 30 minutes and keep repeating until done? Ugh - no thank you. Ganache is not only a much easier medium to work with, it provides a much better structure since it sets hard and is much easier to get a smooth finish in my opinion.

Sadly a couple of cakes from the class did not survive the trip home (never fear - Wally is still going strong!). I feel like using ganache may have helped this problem.

In terms of this crazy humidity, by taking the cake in and out of the fridge all the time it begins to sweat resulting in the shiny look you can see in the picture above. Definitely not ideal.

I could rant about ganache vs buttercream for hours but since it's not a very interesting debate... onto Friday!

Friday introduced us to sugar work. What's sugar work you say? Well, ever seen candy makers pulling sugar? Ever seen a glass blower in action? Sugar work is both of these things - pulling and blowing sugar to create decorations, or display pieces!

The one major thing I learnt in this class: I have heat sensitive skin. HOLY MOTHER OF SUGAR! I thought I was just being a pansy whinging about the hot sugar, but no. When I took off my two pairs of gloves I discovered I had blistered my fingers. After lunch I had to wrap my fingers in band-aids and wear THREE pairs of gloves, and still it hurt to pull and work with the sugar. Not the most enjoyable medium to work with, I must say.

It took me a while to get past the pain, but once my fingers started to numb a bit I was able to put together a few things. One of those was this "sugar rose".

Isomalt Rose

Although, technically we were actually working with Isomalt which is a sugar substitute that's an easier medium to work with than actual sugar. Apparently sugar doesn't hold up too well in humid climates.

I also made a super cute fish, however whilst moving him to take a photo he took a nose dive into the table and was no more. That's the thing about sugar pieces - they're more fragile than glass. The above iPhone photo, while not a good one, was all I was brave enough to take. Moving the sugar pieces into better lighting and getting my DSLR was too terrifying a thought!

This weekend is a long one for Canada Day and I am not back into class until Wednesday, when we are spending another day on sugar work. Thursday and Friday we tackle Macarons! Yippee!

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