Saturday, 23 July 2011

Baking is Science for Hungry People.

Remember this cake, which I ever so proudly served to Miss Mander for her birthday about 4 or 5 years ago. LOL. I was so proud of it. To be fair, at the time that was the best cake I had ever made. Lately I have been doing alot of thinking about where I am now, how I got here, and where I want to be going. I know heavy stuff right?  I have been abit pensive, but overall, feeling positive. Speaking of positives, I would like to take a moment or two to talk about the NAIT baking program. I had such and amazing experience at NAIT. I want everyone to go there and take the baking program, come on its only 8 months, and if you do your apprenticeship you get grants from the government. You cant lose!!! If you cant take the whole thing at least treat yourself to a pastry boot camp!
Here I am with another project I was so proud of. My first loaf of bread. Looking at it now, I'm mortified. But i was so exuberant when I made it. You can tell I hadn't quite learned anything yet, it is a terrible loaf, but I loved it, I still love it.This humble bread symbolizes that I will never stop learning and growing as a baker, and a person. Thanks bread... you're awesome! I promise to keep learning!
We learned so much in such a short period of time. I'm glad I was older when I returned to school, and i was really focused. My instructors were beyond my expectations. There may be a teeny tiny part of me that wishes I went to SAIT, because they do more "competition" stuff, and plating. But I would never take back the time I spent at NAIT. Everyday was an opportunity for me to soak up knowledge, and practical experience from the amazing staff. As well I had a chance to learn in my own style, and challenge myself. We learned, breads, cakes, cookies, quick breads, pastry, icings, butter creams, fillings, donuts, puff dough, pies, tarts, decoration, SO MUCH! Not to mention the theory ( science behind the it) food safety, business, equipment, first aid, nutrition, and more. AMAZING. I'm getting all amped up just talking about it. I want to go learn something.
Pumpkin Pie
Black Forest Cake

Bread Art

The pumpkin pie holds a special place in my memory. The morning of the pie demo, I was quite emotional. I found out the night before that my grandpa/father (its complicated) had passed. I tried to just carry on, but my mind wandered during the demo, my teacher noticed the tears in my eyes. They called for a short break, and helped me compose myself without drawing attention. I don't know if they ever realized how much that meant to me. Beyond being great educators, they are all people I like and respect. I held things together till the end of the week, when the part time instructor came in. Poor guy had no idea what he was walking into. While i was working on this cake (below), I struggled. the marzipan tore, my fondant wasn't the right temperature, it was a disaster. I was frustrated, and I was quick to tear up again. The kind young man thought i was upset about the cake, and tried to console me. My friends told him what was going on, and we all laughed through it.  Sometimes they still tease me "Its Not The Cake...sniff sniff"     
When I started at NAIT i had little to no interest in cake decorating, it wasn't something i was familiar with. It wasn't until we started our gingerbread projects that i fell in love with the idea of making edible decorations. Some of the class volunteered to make gingerbread projects to be auctioned off at the Festival of Trees.
Being the overly ambitious person I tend to be, I decided to make my own project as well as collaborate on a group project with two other lovely ladies in my class. My solo project was Shrek's marsh, and the group project was Charlotte's  Web. My Shrek gingerbread won a peoples choice award, which really uped my self esteem. and then the group project was featured in the Edmonton journal.

After the fun I had with these projects I began to enjoy decorating alot more. I am abit unconventional.... shocking.... i know 8) I didn't care to much for the the royal icing dummy cake we made at the end of first semester.Althogh i did learn two things, I do not like flowers, tradtitional cakes or royal icing. 

there was alot more fun to have in the second semester. We had fascinating sugar and chocolate sculpture demos. I would have liked to have more time on those subjects. It was amazing to see our teacher blow molten sugar like glass, and create a beautiful bird in minutes. So inspiring, and amazing. I on the other hands made a lopsided flower my first try with pulled sugar. I hope someday to practice these techniques, and get better with them, and with chocolate tempering too.
Fougasse Bread
Yule Log
Hazelnut Cake

Carrot Cake with Marzipan Carrots

Choux Swans

LopSided Pulled Sugar Flower

Chocolate Box. Featuring ChocoPig!
As the end of the year loomed, there were some intimidating projects. I was not really interested in making a traditional fondant wedding cake covered in flowers, So I looked at the marking guide, and pushed my luck by designing a more whimsical cake. I'm pretty sure my teacher wanted to smack me, but I had way more fun with my cake than the other students. I still go a good mark, and come on.... how cute are octopi in love?

and then finally there was the last big display with our choice of bread ( i chose fougasse) petite fours, and a fondant cake of our own design. I decided to do a simple cherry blossom cake. To this day it is one of my favorite cakes I have ever made. 

Then before I knew it classes were over, and it was time for apprenticing. We were ushered off out into the world, armed with all the tools we could need to begin battling in the trenches of the baking industry. I still count some of my class mates as my closest friends. Of course much more happened during my time at NAIT, but I think you might agree that this post is long enough already.Thank you to everyone who showed me technique, patience, and knowledge. I feel like I have come a very far way in a very short period of time. I am trying to continue on in my career in a way that would make you proud.
I follow my instincts, even when they don't follow convention. I trust my morals, standing up for my beliefs. I bake from my heart, but i use my head.

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