Saturday, November 8, 2008

School's Over, Now the Work Begins

I've finished my last class in pastry school--Chocolate Artistry. This is my final piece--a pastillage box with one dozen truffles. Everything on the box is edible, the snowflakes are also pastillage, and the truffles are all hand rolled and dipped dark chocolate raspberry (Framboise & raspberry puree)
Here I am in my full uniform. DORKY!

So I'm now ready to start my externship and I have a confession to make...I didn't survive the first externship I agreed to. It took me only one weekend to realize the the restaurant life wasn't for me. I was so excited about the idea of being a pastry chef in a four star restaurant, but the reality of working 16 hour days to open a new restaurant was just not happening for this girl (yes, I've worked in restuarants before, but I was MUCH younger). In the middle of dinner service I had an epiphany--I just want to make and decorate cakes! I went into pastry school believing that cakes was the direction I wanted, band guess what, it is. And I realized that I needed to get out of the restaurant and find another externship more suitable to my advancing age and desired skill set.
I'm thrilled to report that I found exactly what I was looking for. I'm going to work at Sweet on You bakery in Stamford, CT. It's so cute and has super yummy baked goods, plus I'll be able to decorate which is really what I want. I'll keep you all posted, cross your fingers.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Cheese Please!

Lovely cheese platter? Nope, it's Cake!

Everything you see is entirely edible, even the marble is marzipan. The blue cheese wheel and pistachio crusted cheese ball are both yellow cake soaked with Earl Grey syrup and filled & iced with green tea Swiss buttercream.
This was my final project for Advanced Cakes. I LOVE how it turned out!
(Yes, I got 100%. WooHoo!)

I really like the "moldy" sides of the blue cheese. It's really just royal icing tinted with edible food color.

I spent a long time on the blue cheese wheel, but in the end I liked the cheese ball more. I was just so tickled that it really looked like a cheese ball you could scoop into.

Even the crackers and the cheese knife are edible gum paste. This is absolutely my favorite piece to date. I can't wait to make more sculpted cakes!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Life is Sweet!

I think it comes as no surprise by now that I'm food obsessed. Or that I take my search for the full on sweet life very seriously. OK, not too seriously, I mean that's the whole point of leaving corporate America to find my true passion and enjoy life to the hilt. I have, however, completely committed myself to doing and trying everything I can to make my life happier, sweeter and just more fun. To that end and to the complete dismay of my dear hubby, I've embraced my inner rebellious teenager...
I got a tattoo!
A BIG one!

My new cupcake tattoo!! I LOVE it! It took me a while to find the right tattoo artist to do it because I really wanted it fully shaded and great color. It's about 4"x 4 1/2" on my lower right shin.
I love it, love it, love it!

A huge thanks to Markus at Lucky Soul Tattoo in Ansonia, CT

I also have other new cupcakes from online friends. I did a swap with Emily from Sugar & Meringue. Aren't these the cutest faux cupcakes? They absolutely look deliciously real. I love the ballerina cuppie! They look so awesome in my bakery themed studio.

I sent Emily one of my jumbo cupcakes made just for her:

I've wanted one of these amazing cupcakes for a while. This fantastic cardboard cupcake was made especially for me by my friend Patianne Stevenson from Art on the Menu. I've shared her work with you before, but now I own my very own Patianne cupcake!
Isn't it so cool? And check out that wicked cool matching serving tray. She even sends it with a tag to tell you what type of boxes she got the cardboard from. Now that's a green crafter! The cherry is my favorite part :)

Thank you soooo much Patianne! I hope you like your felt cupcake.

Now for your Thursday sugar rush, here are a few of the latest cakes from school:

Flourless chocolate cake covered with ganache and raspberries. This is now the hubby's new favorite!

Chocolate genoise and peanut butter buttercream covered with ganache. Aren't the vertical stripes cool?

To make the vertical stripes is actually pretty easy. You do need to assemble the cake in a cake circle lined with acetate. Put a layer of cake on the bottom and frost it with buttercream, then you take long stripes of cake 1 1/2 inches wide, frost them and roll them like a swiss roll, keep adding strips until it fills the entire circle (The swiss roll goes onto the cake flat so you can see the rings, similar to the rings of a tree stump). Then top the giant swiss roll with another layer of buttercream, another cake circle, a crumb coat of buttercream and enrobe the whole thing in ganache. When you slice it, you get the vertical stripes. Cool huh? Hope that made sense.

This one is called a Dobos Torte. It looks more exciting than it is. Basically it's a hazelnut layered torte with 7 layers, covered in chocolate buttercream. The triangles on top are caramel covered sponge cake that have been dipped in chocolate.

This entremet is called Eleanor: Framboise soaked cocoa genoise, outer rim of raspberry jam layered sponge cake, fresh raspberries, raspberry Bavarian, topped with raspberry gaze, whipped cream & fresh raspberries

This Fraisier Entremet is composed of: Kirsch flavored genoise, strawberries, mousseline, French buttercream and topped with a marzipan disk.

Mini Fraisiers. The acetate is still around them so you can't see the strawberries very well.

Havana Torte is a hazelnut cake with three separate layers of hazelnut sponge cake, two chocolate layers, and one vanilla, the whole cake is crumb coated in chocolate buttercream and enrobed in chocolate ganache

I hope you've gotten your sugar fix. I'll check back soon!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

So much to do, So little time...

I can't believe it's been so long since my last post! It seems like every Sunday I swear that I'm going to make sure I schedule blogging time, and the next thing I know it's the next Sunday. I don't know where the time goes. These last two pastry school classes (Intro to Cakes and Advanced European Cakes) have taken a lot more out of school planning and prep time. I've loved every minute of it, but it certainly hasn't allowed for any crafting or blogging time. This is my final practical exam for Intro to Cakes. We had to complete a three-tiered fondant covered wedding cake. The design and decoration was totally up to each student.

I'm THRILLED with how it turned out! I've never worked with fondant in my life & I can't believe how smooth I managed to get my cakes. To do the garlands I made over 300 fondant flowers (I did those at home) and "glued" each one on individually. I just want to make sugar flowers all day. Anyone in Connecticut need a cake decorator? We'll get to the job front in a minute...

Here's a shot of the all of the cakes in my class. At the risk of be too catty, I do think mine stands out a bit :)
The class I'm currently in is Advanced European Cakes--Lots of tortes, layers, almond flavor and mousses. The one exception was doing a "dome" cake, which basically is a simplistic form of a sculpted cake created in a bowl and turned out once firm. We could use the dome to create any themed marzipan covered cake we wanted. I decided to alter the dome form a bit and create a cornucopia.

The cornucopia is all cake (vanilla sponge cake with vanilla buttercream, nothing exciting), the pumpkin to the right and the large apple to the left are mini cakes. Everything is either covered with marzipan or made out of marzipan. I think it's so cool. It took about 6 hours total to complete.
For the final exam for this class I've decided to make a similar type of decorated cake, but it will be a cheese platter theme (think wheel of cheese, crackers, olives, etc). Check back at the end of the month for that one!

Here are some of the other creations so far from this class:

Individual mocha layer cakes

Zebra Cake -- Chocolate genoise cake with peanut butter butter cream, covered in ganache. Don't you love the stripes? It's actually pretty easy, the middle is like a big swiss roll on it's side with a disk of cake on the top and bottom.

Dobos Torte--7 layers of sponge cake with 7 layers of chocolate buttercream. The top is a layer of sponge cake covered with caramel & dipped in chocolate. This one was A LOT of work for so so payout as far as I'm concerned.

Flourless Chocolate Cake --This cake is AMAZING. Made more like a baked custard cheese cake, very rich and chocolatey.

Here's another impressive looking cake, but give me plain cake with frosting any day. This is a Havana Cake -- A bottom layer of chocolate hazelnut cake, middle layer of vanilla hazelnut cake, another chocolate cake layer, crumb coated with chocolate buttercream and enrobed in ganache. Looks cool, tastes like dry crumbly nuts.

In addition to doing all of this I've been obsessing about my externship. I only have 4 more weeks of classes, then we all must complete a 10 week externship in some sort of baking establishment. I started looking weeks ago. It's such a strange thing to be a grown adult with a fairly decent (but not applicable) resume begging to be allowed to take on a minimum wage job. In this economy bakeries just aren't in the position to take on help, even for peanut wages. I think my resume was also scaring people a little. But alas, just when I thought I'd be working at the local grocery store, I landed an unbelievable opportunity.

A new four-star hotel is opening up in New Haven (trust me, it's needed) with a up-scale restaurant that will hopefully also be four-star dining. I really didn't want to work in a restaurant mostly because I don't want late night hours. Did that when I was in my 20's, don't really want to do it now. But they really needed a pastry cook, and since it's a hotel they would also be serving breakfast & lunch. So I decided to check it out and was hired on the spot. As a pastry chef!!!! Yes, I reminded them that I'm still a student, but he really liked my portfolio. I start next week and the hotel & restaurant open at the end of the month. It's called The Study at Yale
and I love the look and philosphy of the hotel. I also really like the Executive Chef. He has a very impressive resume and I'm hoping to learn a lot of from him.

My emotions keep switching between "how did I land this amazing opportunity" and "I really just want to decorate cakes." I'm going to keep working on my cakes and building a portfolio so I can hopefully move to that specialty in the future. In the meantime I do need to make some money and get my foot in the door. I'm excited and freaked out. I'll need to get over my hatred of creme brulee. But at least I have an externship/employment plan so I'm going with it.

The down side of all of this is not knowing how much time I'll have for crafting, my Etsy shop and my new LolliShop. Wish me luck!
xoxox Heather

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It's a Pumpkin Festival

Fall is absolutely my favorite time of year. I was going to write a lofty and poetic ode the Fall, but my brain is all gummed up with buttercream frosting. So rather than filling your souls with beautiful imagery of pumpkins, tumbling whirls of leaves in autumn colors and the crisp air blowing in the promise of fresh apple pie and trick-or-treaters you only get my lazy “Hey Fall, glad you’re here!”

I wanted to share a few of my latest fall creations. They are all listed for sale in my Etsy store.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My name is Heather and I'm addicted to Buttercream

After 14 weeks of pastry school the class I've been waiting for is finally here--Cakes! I'm sure after all of the buttercream frosting I've made in the past two weeks most people would be sick of it, but not me, can't get enough of the stuff. I truly am an addict. Is there a 12-step program for frosting addiction? Actually, I hope not. I'm not ready to give it up.

Black Forest Cake

Carrot Cake

I made these in class on a day when everyone was hungry. We were just making cakes & freezing them, so we didn't have any snacks. These are Chocolate cupcakes frosted with cherry buttercream frosting. The cherries had been marinating in their own juice plus Kirsch liqueur which made them extra decadent and gave the frosting an amazing flavor. I used the extra boozed up syrup to make ice cream the next day. Yum!

Traditional German Chocolate Cake

Mandarin Orange Layer Cake frosted with Grand Marnier Whipped Cream

This was the most amazing cake EVER. Seriously, this cake may be my Holy Grail, the solution to all of life's problems. It's a white layer cake with fresh strawberries. What makes it so addictive is the frosting: Cream cheese frosting with Malibu Rum, coconut extract, crushed pineapple and a pinch of all spice (the specks on the top of the cake is an additional sprinkling of all spice). This cake is to die for!

Pistachio Layer Cake

Triple Chocolate Torte: Three layers of Chocolate velvet cake, dark chocolate ganache filling and covered with chocolate buttercream

Here's a little fun with marzipan. Remember the talking veggies on The Muppet Show? Yeah, that's what I had on my brain.

Wishing you all buttercream shots!