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!

25 June 2014

Just feelin' a little homesick

I have been in Toronto for 2 months now, away from home for 3, and I am not ashamed to say I'm a little homesick.

While I am having a blast here, there are times when you feel awfully alone in a big city by yourself. Sometimes it's when people don't understand me because of my accent. Sometimes it's because I'm the only person alone at an event. Sometimes it's because I see photos of my beautiful nieces who are growing up so far away from me!

Can you hear my heart breaking?

Okay - enough of all that feeling sorry for myself. After two months, here's a run down of what I'm missing the most about home and what I'm liking the most about this fine city of Toronto!

Things I am missing about Australia...

Expensive but soooooo worth it!

  • Vegemite easily accessible and at a normal price - $8.50 for a tiny jar?! C'mon! 
  • Chocolate frogs - No Canadians, they're not just some magical thing from Harry Potter. 
  • Crispy M&M's - seriously, what is up with that?! 
  • Beaches - why, oh why did I always take them for granted?
  • Cheddar cheese that isn't bright orange - enough said.
  • Dry heat & not so cold cold- humidity is forever the enemy. 
  • All product labels being in english - French, why must you confuse me so? No, I didn't want low fat cheese. No, I didn't want gluten free pasta. I wish you would make your labels clearer!

Things I am liking about Toronto...
  • Not being considered ridiculously fair skinned - hello normality! 
  • Public transport - oh, the TTC is far from perfect but it's a sure lot better than Adelaide Metro.
  • The Lindy Hop scene - all the swing dancing, all the time!
  • The  beautiful old buildings and cute houses - they're just plain adorable. 
  • Self serve ticket machines at the cinemas - because when you go to a movie alone there's a very high chance you do not wish to speak to anyone.
  • Anonymity - walking down a main road with the back of your pants completely undone and your underwear on display for all to see becomes slightly less embarrassing when nobody knows who you are. Slightly...
  • Peameal Bacon Sandwiches - the holy grail of bacon sandwiches!
Peameal Bacon Sandwich from St Lawrence Market

Of course, I have left out of this list the people I'm missing because clearly, my family, friends and that fluffy fur baby of mine are obvious. Cue more heartbreak.

This trip is halfway over - only 2 months left of the BGC Diploma Programme, and 3 months until I'll be back knocking on Australia's door begging them to let me back in. This time is flying by!

Look out Australia, I'll be back before you know it!

23 June 2014

Bonnie Gordon College Week 7

This week at Bonnie Gordon College was Chocolate Week with instructor, Michael Smith.

'Chocolate Week' sounds incredible right? Hell, it sounds so good we should make it 'Chocolate Month'! But why stop there when we could make it 'Chocolate Life'?! Mmmm chocolate life.

In reality however, I'll just begin this post by saying that there is a very slim chance I'll be becoming a chocolatier. Very, very slim.

Now don't get me wrong, working with chocolate sure is fun and even if it doesn't look pretty you still get to eat it after so it's a win-win. Except that there wasn't a single thing I did this week which was 100% right. Maybe the pools of melted chocolate were distracting? Maybe the fact that I was eating it constantly caused a sugar rush that affected my brain.

Or maybe I just don't have a talent for working with chocolate. All plausible scenarios.

Chocolate Week was also very messy.

And this was a good day! I think my apron is permanently stained!
Alas, despite my numerous blunders and just general flailing around all week with no idea what I was doing - I am so sorry Lily, you really should have tried to swap baking partners - our results weren't too bad. They were certainly edible. You may even say delicious!

Out of the few projects we attempted this week that actually turned out, this Buttercrunch was one of my favourites. Deliciously chocolate-y, caramel-y, hazelnut-y goodness. It's not overly sweet, and I could probably eat the entire bag... in fact, I think I almost have!

Another project that turned out deliciously edible were these chocolate ganache bars. Aren't they cute with their little chocolate transfers?

Chocolate Ganache Bars
Okay - so maybe these were actually meant to be bite size chocolate 'bon bons'. Maybe I got a little carried away and made them into (extra) fun size chocolate bars. It's possible that someone less in love with chocolate than I am would struggle to eat a whole bar. What's that saying? Go big or go home?

My favourite of everything we made this week were these chocolate salted caramels.

"Chocolate Salted Caramels"

Made with... Australian Murray River pink salt! Whoa! These won't be hanging around for long!

We also made dark chocolate fruit truffles but I let my baking partner take all of those because well, fruit. Blurgh. I also attempted white chocolate bon bons that just didn't want to come out of their moulds, a chocolate flower which never got off the ground, and a chocolate box which... well, let's not talk about the chocolate box.

Needless to say, I am praying that chocolates won't be in this terms practical exam!

This week we get to briefly return to cakes - phew!

15 June 2014

Weeks 5 & 6 at Bonnie Gordon College

Holy guacamole!

It's been a couple of weeks since I updated and they have been the most stressful weeks! The reason? The past 4 days at Bonnie Gordon College were my first term exams. Gah!!!

Let's rewind a bit before we get to that though because we totally missed chatting about chocolate cake week. Ooooh yes, it was full of chocolatey goodness!

We baked not one, but three chocolate cakes and we had our first play with chocolate ganache. I immediately found my happy place! Unfortunately, their ganache recipe was a little different to what I'm used to, and the technique used to ganache was entirely different, but nothing was going to dampen my spirits on ganache day! I even got to pull out my handy dandy Clear Cake Scrapers by The Cupcake Lady and demonstrate how I would ganache a cake back home! It was slightly terrifying and entirely awkward but fun nonetheless.

On Thursday we got to venture into the world of figures made from modelling chocolate. All I'll say on this topic is GIVE ME FONDANT ANY DAY! Modelling chocolate has its benefits including taste and not drying out, however it's major fault is that it melts. One thing I've learnt during my 6 weeks at BGC is that I have hot hands and touching melty things is a no go.

Friday returned us back to our lovely ganached cakes and we got to cover them with modelling chocolate, instead of fondant. I found this a more difficult medium to work with than fondant. It is also more expensive. It does however, taste a lot better. Ahh, conundrum!

Modelling Chocolate Covered & Decorated Cake

Once covered, we were allowed to decorate our cakes however we liked with modelling chocolate. I was quite happy with the result!

This brings us to week 6. Exam week!

We had a bit of relief on Monday with a day split between painting on cakes and a photography seminar. Let's get one thing straight: I am NOT a painter. There is a reason I dropped art in my first year of high school. My attention span for such tasks is basically non-existent and within the first half an hour of painting I was ready to bang my head against the wall.

So what do I do for my exam practical? Paint the entire cake of course!

Our exam was split into three parts. A written assignment, a 3 day practical 'celebration cake' assessment, and a theory exam. For our practical, we were each given a fake client with their cake request.

My cake had to be for a young man who has been accepted into a Landscape & Garden Design programme, after which he'll be heading to the UK to study at another Garden Design School. His dream is to one day own his own landscape company and his parents are hosting a party to celebrate this next step in his career.

This raised one critical problem. My first instinct when hearing 'garden design' is to decorate the cake with beautiful flowers - alas, being a cake for a young male, how does one make it a masculine design?

My conclusion: succulents!

First Term Exam Prac at Bonnie Gordon College

I based my design on this Corten Steel Succulent Wall, although in the end it's debatable whether the cake looks like Corten Steel or wooden floorboards - either way, it gave off a more masculine, rustic vibe.

Thankfully first term exams have now come to an end and I now just have to wait anxiously for the results!

3 June 2014

Montage: May 2014

One whole month of living in Canada and attending Bonnie Gordon College is over!

Only three to go now - wow.

It's been a crazy busy month and I have been flat out sharing my time between college, swing dancing classes, and trying to fit in a little bit of a social life and seeing some touristy sights.

I've fallen into such a routine that when it came to put together this months video I didn't think I'd have anything interesting to share. I was incredibly surprised when I had to find a longer song to fit in all my adventures! I guess I've done more than I thought!

Here's my latest monthly montage: all Toronto, all the time!

My first month in Toronto has been incredible. The occasional waves of homesickness are quickly beaten away by knowing what an incredibly opportunity this is!

Bring on month 2!

1 June 2014

Week 4 at Bonnie Gordon College

This week our classes at Bonnie Gordon College (BGC) were all about sugar flowers!

I've been really excited about this part of the course because while I'd made a couple of sugar flowers in the past, I just wasn't really 'getting it'. I guess my patience for working with such delicate petals wasn't up to scratch, and I'd ended up just plain frustrated in my previous classes. Frustrated, and with broken flowers. Sigh.

Our instructor for the week was the very talented Jenny Maw who solely teaches sugar flowers at BGC. Her creations are so beautiful that I could hardly tell they weren't real flowers!

I admit, at the start of the week I found myself stuck in my frustrated zone and things weren't really going as planned. My first attempt at making ranunculus was embarrassing to say the least (and they're so easy!) and I think peonies will cause me some headaches for a while longer.

However, but the end of the week I was feeling much more comfortable in working with the gum paste, wiring petals together and trying my best not to be too heavy handed and break ALL the things.

See? Ranunculus weren't so bad in the end! 

I will say one thing - the humidity of Toronto and gum paste does not go well together. The first couple of days this week my hands were so hot that I could barely touch the gum paste without damaging the flowers. It made me a little homesick for dry ol' Adelaide.

Thursday we started putting together flowers for our own cake design, and we also received a lecture from Bonnie Gordon herself on flower placement and structure of cakes. She shared a lot of really great information, especially for those in the class who have don't have experience with structure and transportation of cakes.

I was quite pleased with my end result - not bad for a girl who has never done many 'floral' cakes!

Final results of Gum Paste Flower week at Bonnie Gordon College

The part I was most excited about were the succulents! Although they weren't part of the teaching curriculum for the week, we begged Jenny to show us the secrets of the succulent. Such an 'in' thing at the moment, I was so happy with how they turned out! Having never been demonstrated how to make a full succulent, I was really quite hesitant to see how they would come together. They really weren't looking too good until I put their final row of leaves on and suddenly they took shape!

Close up of the feature flower of my cake - a delicate rose!

It was pointed out to me that all of my cakes in the course so far have ended up being pink and/or blue. I haven't done this intentionally, but I guess you can tell what my favourite colours are!

One month down - three to go!

Pin It button on image hover