Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween's coooming, halloween's coomming

Last night was my fourth and final Wilton Method course......
Our teacher Miss Patty, let us design our own final cake, which was cool cuz the final cakes suggested in the course book are pretty darn hideous.
Miss Patty "gently" suggested we could do a halloween cake because of the date (PS miss patty and I could be BFFs...I kind of love her). I jumped on it. I have an unusual love and nostalgia for Halloween considering it never used to be a big deal in Trinidad. My British kindergarten teacher made it a big to-do every year and bcuz of all the expats in my neighbourhood...we trick or treated every year and went to Halloween parties. I started googling cakes and designing stuff....drafting designs (with colours....cuz we know I have wonky coordination skills)

In the midst of this cakey daydreaming, my landlady told me I had to move, and all I could think was

so the cake became about Halloween while doing some serious downsizing.....using up the stuff i already had (precoloured fondant, icing, marshmallows, cake things)
So I decided on a graveyard scene....I made pumpkins, tombstones and bones ahead of time out of leftover gumpaste and I actually fashioned some nifty ghosts but they didn't make it onto the final cake...I did play with them tho lol
Anyway at this point, I was pretty much dreading making this cake because of all the baking involved in the midst of clearing my apartment. I came up with a good system however. Everytime I used an appliance/bowl/whisk, I would wash it, dry it and throw it into my old TV box (which is now my bakery-in-a-box)
I baked all 5 cakes which came out gorgeously leveled and went to find frosting to "dirty-ice" them (lol cake boss) and in my "downsize" mode I grabbed the leftover magical strawberry filling that the cake elf whipped up last time and decided that would have to do.
"It's a chocolate-covered-strawberry cake now"

However the strawberry filling was not whipped or cooperating with me at all......and I was about to just ice it as one big hunk o cake until i opened my fridge and looked wayyyyy down into the bottom corner.....
"shut the front door"
There was a teeny tub of decorator's icing I had bought for roses back in course 1 (don't worry, it's shelf stable) Lucky me! So I poured all my remaining cocoa powder (yay downsizing!) into the frosting tub and whipped like crazy (I packed my kitchenaid away already..darn)
I had 5 cakes all frosted and filled with delicious fudgy gooness ( I used a little of the strawberry....I liked the chocolate strawberry cake idea ) and ready to be fondanted.
Downsize mode again......My cake was going to have purple in it somewhere.....I bought that massive tub of purple fondant and I was not carting that sucker to my new room.
I used up the rest of the chocolate fondant to make bat like creatures and rats.....and lo and behold, I found my elusive edible pearls (i already bought new ones...don't you hate that) so suddenly my starless night became starcrossed lol.
Heres what I ended up with when all the cakes were covered.

hahah i was playing with the ghosts, till I realised they made a dent in the top of the cake....oops!!
(kinda wish I could have left the cake one tier....but i had to stack it for class)
I am so proud of my fondant smoothing improvement.....I had to go buy a new fondant smoother because sticky fingers obviously dropped the class.....clever little minx.
Anyway i digress I have learned with fondant it's less about the texture of the fondant and more about the smoothness of the cake underneath....like clothes I guess...
lesson learned: buttercream is like Spanx for a lumpy cake......

Anyway so we were instructed to not stack the cakes yet and bring them to class unstacked.
I must have been on crack or something when I picked out the pans I was going to use because I honestly thought there would be much more difference between the layers. My first two tiers ended up only being like one inch difference all around. When I stacked the cake, you could see the cake board pretty clearly. This made me sad cuz i had put so much thought into how the cake would look at the end, but I couldn't do anything about it.....so I worked with it and made a skull border. Sigh, lesson learnt....measure twice cut once.....
Thanks to Darian, the 9 yr old boy who comes with his mom to my class cuz I used some of his bone sprinkles for effect....and thanks for my cupcake :)

Here's the finished product.....

I also discovered, this cake, unlike all my others looks better in person than it does on camera. It's not a photogenic cake because I wanted it to be sloppy and drippy and smudgy for halloween...and it does....in person.....but on camera it just looks.....well sloppy, and drippy LOL

Anyway, I made it very kiddie looking cuz I'm donating it to a childrens home.
(Mom says take the zombie hand away lol)

Anyway so here's the last one:

Sigh......I shall miss you Wilton.
I started off just thinking I would only have time to finish 1 course and here I am 4 months later....still loving it :)

Where do I go from here? LOL I've found myself googling culinary schools that have baking and pastry programs and I just got off the phone with Orlando Culinary who politely told me that they do not offer certificate programs to international students and the A.S program in Baking and Patisserie is (wait for it)

so after that, anything she said was Charlie Brown teacher-speak....mwohmwohmwoh

So I guess till further notice culinary school is deffo out of the question. But I started googling stuff I could do......The Diploma in Baking and Pastry Arts at home is covered by the government tertiary education initiative, so that's a good option. Only issue is the actual curriculum is pretty lame. Or so it seems......is it a case of poor description of the program? or do you actually get what you pay for? I don't know. And of course the website is down. LOL

But I have also seen a lot of advocates against culinary school...a lot of famous pastry chefs argue that it's a waste of money an you come out just as unqualified, but with a little more book knowledge.....I'm so used to being in school, it just seems natural to study in one for any career path.
A lot of chefs have no formal training...they learned from the school of hard knocks, which is just as, if not more valuable in something as hands on as the culinary field. It took me a while to wrap my head around that one.
But it makes sense.....if it tastes good, its not going to kill you and looks fabulous, then why does it need a degree behind it? It's a whole different ball game.
I love the recreational classes because they force me to do what I think is the most important no matter what:
practice, practice practice.

God willing, eventually I will be where I need to be and where I'm supposed to be.....until then I'm in Dessert Decorating/ Candy making class on Thursdays :)

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