Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Vacation

It's amazing how two months pass by in a flash. With each day, each pastry, each cake, time goes on and before you know it Christmas is but a few weeks away. So life has changed to baking by day and knitting by night....getting those last minute presents whipped up to sit in shiny wrapping paper under the tree come Christmas morning. The past two months have been filled with cakes ranging from one layer to six layers, plated dessert class that brings a whole new creative aspect to a plate, and coming at the beginning of the cakes. While I have enjoyed each and everyday I find myself enjoying the freedom that has come recently, trying new flavor combinations as well as not just having to "follow the recipe" anymore. Take the Pear Charlotte to the right for instance. Filled with caramelized pears, a layer of carmel mousse and a carmel glacage on top. For a reason that I just can't understand....I had the idea for a chocolate frog on top. It seemed fun and unexpected. Then there is caramelized pear chips with a carmel sauce and creme anglase on the plate. So the fun continues but the pressure has taken on a new level starting with this class. There is a reason they are called "Advanced Baking" classes. So as the pressure builds I throw myself upon the mercy of my knitting needles for a zen moment, in which they finished a fun little monster pair for my niece for Christmas and now are working on another gift for my mom. So all in all, just remember... when your souffle deflates or your chocolate tempering just isn't up to par that day, come home and grab your knitting needles. Put in the movie "Julie and Julia". Shed a few tears. Get some sleep. Then go back the next day with your apron tied tight and show the souffle, or the chocolate, who's the boss.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Story of Four Little Bear Claws

It's amazing how time flies in pastry school, especially with only three week classes. By the time you are getting settled you are on your way out the door on a new adventure towards bigger and tastier things. It wasn't until I got home today, with four cake boxes full of pastries mind you, that I looked at the pastries I had made snapped on my camera.
The fact that many of these I had never tasted, as in the danishes which yes I admit....I had never had a danish, let alone thought I could make was quickly put aside by the picture of a brilliant pastry just waiting for a lucky person.
Out of everything the past few weeks I would have to say the bear claws are my favorite.
It's not necessarily the pastry itself, but the whimsical twist that I can put on it to truly make it look like a bear claw. Granted, the French just love to keep everything delicate and burnt to a crisp but I on the other hand tend to lean toward the American side more and more.
Why burn something that looks great at a golden yellow to brown?

And why can't I just make it bigger and better?
Finally, do the French ever NOT use butter in their food?
In this journey to find my pastry chef side I fight the urge to battle the "French ways" that are so often taught in the kitchen and put my twist on things but I must remind myself that my time will come......and then the gloves come off.
So in the interest of showing off some work as well as making you extremely hungry I now bring you a few pictures of the past few weeks in what is called Viennousierie and Laminated Dough class which is done this Friday then on to International Pastries (which includes Ice Cream!!!!).
Baked Vol A Vents with pastry cream and topped with strawberries and apricot glaze.

Apple turnovers stuffed with a cinnamon apple compote filling.

What is called a Fruit Band with pastry cream filling and mango, banana, orange, and blackberry topping.

Danishes made in a pinwheel shape with an cinnamon apple compote and apricot glaze on top.

So once the baking comes to a halt at the end of the week.... it's off to Seattle for an over nighter to see director Kevin Smith give one of his hilarious talks and poke around the city looking for trouble. Be scared citizens of Seattle. Be very scared! (lol)

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Hamster Ball Derby

To Whom It May Concern,

My name is Poppy Bivens and I am the hamster that belongs to one Lindsey Bivens who writes on this website. Due to a recent event at a so called Hamster Ball Derby at a petstore named Petco located in Portland near a mall called Clackamas Town Center, I would like to clear the air on my actions that day. While I would let my owner attempt to describe the events of the day, I feel that she cannot accurately portray my feelings towards what occurred and therefore I have taken over to put this on the record.
Upon arriving at this Hamster Ball Derby, my owner and her friend Amie took me to a practice track where I quickly found myself showing off to my local competition being that many of them were atleast three times the size of me....possibly occurring from the over-induldgence of treats given to them by their little owners, many around the age of 10. So for around 15 minutes before the big race I trotted around the fairly large track before my owner decided to give me a quick break. The competition was fierce that day, nearly 10-12 others showed up that day in their shiny balls with their owners in tow. The funny thing was that my owner was the oldest owner out of all of them, since everyone else entered was 5-18 years old and my owner is 28 years old. A bit odd if you tell me.
So on to the race. My owner rested me for a few minutes when suddenly my name was called and I was wisked to the start line. In the middle lane I stood stairing down the competition on each side of me. On my right, a huge monster of a hamster that looked more like a guinea pig. It should have been tested for performance enhancing treats. On the other side a slim black and white hamster named Oreo that simply looked straight ahead to the finish line, never acknowledging the fact that I was standing there. My owner had trained me slightly the few nights before the race but this hamster next to me must of practiced for months. As I looked him down I heard the noise of the crowd roar in anticipation, then suddenly "Ready, Set, Go!".
The shock of the whole event raced through me as I stood there in my bright red ball. The little people were yelling all around me, and there was my owner telling me to I did. Little did I know it was the wrong way! So she turned me around just in time to see that hamster by the name of Oreo cruise pass the finish line. I froze okay! I admit it! I am used to my nice little home in my owners quiet little room. Not a race with crazy little people screaming and hamsters running every which way!
So after loosing the first race my owner took me aside and gave me a pep talk to get ready for the second chance race that would happen a little later. She told me no matter what she would loved me and that this time run as fast as I could towards her since she would be standing at the finish line. Simple enough I thought! And before I knew it my name was called again for the second chance race.
I stood at that startline with nothing but the look of rage in my face as I stared down my competition. I was going to take them down! Then I heard "Ready, Set, Go". Oh great.... not again.
I ran my little heart out when half way to the finish line I got an itch in my side. So I stopped quickly only to watch one of the other hamsters, I think named Lego but I can't remember for sure, sail by me and cross the finishline. Well, atleast we got farther this time!
So all in all the day was a bust. I crumbled in the face of the competition. But my owner says I still did a great job and I still got my favorite treats when I got home. There is always next year. And trust me I will be coming back with a vengence! Thank you so much for your time. Attached are videos showing the events of the day for you to witness and laugh your head off to.

Thank you,

Poppy the Hamster

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Little Ones

So while I am up here in baking land, I have acquired some friends to help me along in my journey to become a pastry chef. Granted I would have loved to bring one or more of my cats or maybe Lucy the Lab or Keisha the German Shepard (scratch that....I can't even walk Keisha unless I plan on running after her with a broken leash in tow). Anyway, so first it was Poppy that came home with me. She is hilarious and is on the opposite schedule that I am, hamsters being nocturnal and all. So you can imagine my scare while I am sitting watching a movie today after class and I see something moving out of the corner of my eye. Poppy the escape artist. This was her, saying hello and she pranced around happily....outside her cage. So being that life couldn't get anymore exciting I decided that Poppy and I needed another roommate in our humble abode. So being that I already had a cage that Poppy had used only once before upgrading I went down the street to the pet store and came home with our new buddy. Right about now I can picture my mom rolling her eyes at the thought of me having another pet, but they are just too much fun not to mention it is a wonderful feeling knowing that you are giving a pet a home of their very own. But please know, I have hit capacity! Two little ones are just enough to keep me busy at the moment. So I would like to introduce Moo. Yes, the rat has a name of the sound of a cow. Isn't life grand. Moo is a black and white small rat that is about the sweetest thing ever. He is quickly finding his home more than suitable to his liking and has already tested out his wheel. Moo is fitting in just perfect. Another addition to the Bivens' happy little family.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Welcome to Las Vegas!

Today was the last day of our dessert buffet class in which we were given the assignment to create a small display of five different small desserts. Each of the desserts had to be from a certain category of dessert and were served on a display glass along with a printed menu that we created. While having a theme was optional, I decided that I would have the theme Las Vegas (why Vegas you may ask? I don't just kinda happened). Starting Wednesday (since I was presenting on Friday) I hit the ground running in hopes to turn out at the very least 5 edible desserts! I will admit that I learned quite a bit along the way as well as running into a few hiccups but overall it turned out good. Here is a rundown of the menu I created.....

*Sinful Chocolate Chiffon Cake: This very chocolate chiffon cake includes a delicious red colored white chocolate raspberry ganache glaze. These little cakes are shaped to spell out Las Vegas.
*Lucky Lemon Galettes: Little tartlets with a baked lemon custard inside a sweet pastry crust then topped with a fresh lemon slice.
*Cherry Pavlova Slots: Baked, fluffy meringue in casing a cool lemon center. On top of the lemon center, fresh whip cream and orange liquor infused cherries.
*Poker Chip Linzer Cookies: Bright red linzer cookies baked with a mixture of almonds and cashews, sandwiched with a raspberry jam. Topped with royal icing.
*5 Card Stud Diamond and Heart Fresh Fruit Tartlets: Heart and diamond shaped fruit tartlets with a pate sucree crust, filled with whipped cream pastry cream and topped with various black and red fresh fruit (based on seasonality availability as well as an apricot glaze.

So thank goodness it's Friday since I can barely stand up straight let alone think straight. It was worth it in the end, got an A on the project and a new class starts on Monday. Sounds like we are starting viennouserie and laminated doughs. In English.... danish, croissants, and coffee cake to name a few!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tons of Sweets During A Busy Week

French truffles made with chocolate ganoche, coated in dark chocolate then rolled in toasted coconut. Almost too much to bear!

Battenberg cake with an outter covering of marzipan.

Fresh fruit tartlets with mango, kiwi, and blueberries. Filled with pastry cream.
Chocolate Peanut butter tartlets with walnut and almond topping.

Raspberry Linzer tart that is absolutely delicious!

Above, Almond Baklava with flaky layers and lots of honey.

The Nail in the Week

So in the past week things have been a bit crazy, the main reason that I have all these photos that I am just now posting for all to see.
The little kink in the week was that tiny little shiny thing in my tire.
About 15 miles away from home at the mall, I suddenly had a light come on on the dashboard.
Well, that light was telling me that the air pressure was low in a tire, and you can see why.
Thank goodness for my family getting me AAA!
It paid off that night!

The Blueberry Cobbler

Meet the classic blueberry cobbler that is baked in the oven for quite some time.
When its get a beautiful baked crust with a gorgeous color on the side of the cup.

Itty Bitty Blue Cakes

Imagine the tea party in the movie Alice in Wonderland.
These petit fours have raspberry and apricot jam inside along with three layers of thin cake, marzipan and a blue fondant glaze.
Very fun to make, beautiful at any tea party!
A great way to be finishing up our dessert buffet class this week.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Meet Poppy with my iPod!

So recently my iPod died (it was a good iPod and lived a nice long life). So in the event of the death of my iPod I soon picked up a new one! The brand new iPod nano's just came out with video capabilities as well as radio among other things, which is why picked up a blue one and the thing has not left my side since. Poppy (the hamster) has become one of my first victims in the testing of the video cameras so here it is.....

A video directed by Lindsey Bivens titled Meet Poppy!!

(Yes...the video is dorky but inbetween baking, studying and sleeping I gotta do something!)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Little Scare

So today after working my butt off at school to get my apple pie bars, lemon meringue tarts (it's about time!), new york cheesecake bars, and finally my maple walnut tarts all in the midst of being done I left school pretty worn out. So as I trotted along to the bus I checked my phone to see what time it was and to my surprise there was a text from Max to call him soon. Unfortunately he had to take Lucy into the vet today because her scar from having a benign tumor removed had a lump that was oozing (that is all I will say cause I don't want to make anyone sick!). All I could think about the rest of the afternoon was what if? What if the crazy sweetheart of a lab (that was once so tiny, as you see on the first day she arrived and finally became ours) has a tumor again? And what if it's not benign? The thought still puts tears in my eyes. The happiest dog in the world doesn't deserve to have to endure a painful test of strength yet again. And she definitely doesn't want to wear a doggy halo again, since we went through two of them after the last surgery...both ending up in pieces on the back porch with a little help from my in-laws Corgies. Some people think that because a dog is a dog that they just don't hold the same place in our hearts as humans. I am sorry but Lucy is like my child. Possibly the only type of child I will get to experience in this lifetime, and what happens to her....happens to me. Her big eyes and tail, that never seems to relax and take a day off from wagging, is all I need to make my day a happy one. So when I called the veterinarian later this afternoon to find out how things were going I got quite a shock. "Simply a cheat grass that was buried into her skin and got inflamed", "Are you sure?"...I said. "Yep, she is ready to be picked up". Oh thank god was all I could think. The little one is okay. A little groggy from the medication but her tail was wagging happily again. I could burn everything I make in class tomorrow and still be happy. Lucy was okay. And I bet she was happy she didn't have to wear the stupid doggy halo again.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Driving Towards The Blue Skies....

Welcome to the view that I have typically on a weekly basis as I drive down the stretch of road for what is about three and a half hours on a good day, heading to beautiful Central Oregon. (Don't worry mom, I was stopped at the time when I took this photo....there is a stop sign you can't see to the side so please just take a breath) Anyway... this past weekend was my first time back in two weeks after being a walking disease the previous weekend and refusing to leave my bed. Once getting through the rainy Government Camp, I was greeted with clear blue sky and the rocky landscape as I worked my way towards Bend. Don't get me wrong, I love Portland because of the amazing color in the gardens of every little house and the ongoing smell of rain every morning I step out of the door. But I am not a city person....I have known that in the past but I am now sure! The city is not for me. I need a wide open area where there isn't a house every foot and you can actually sit in a park and hear the silence echoing through the trees. Having a wonderful neighbor is all well and good but I would prefer to find a place where I can't see my neighbor so far away and the land is measured in acres than in feet. As each week passes with school, I find myself searching for places to do my externship in June of next year and with that I find myself looking at places beyond the big cities that the typical externships are in. I keep looking for those in the remote places where I can look out towards the mountains to watch the sunset or see the wildflowers blooming along the roadside with their brilliant color. Those are the places that fascinate me, where I can see life continuing after this baking school journey has ended. So in the mean time I enjoy the scenic city lights of Portland, and then enjoy the drive with the windows open as I cruise home on each Friday afternoon to see Max and my family... usually with a carload of baked goodies sitting next to me in the passenger seat.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Let's Try Something New

So I decided to try a stitch that I had yet to do before for the first project that I have started since coming to Portland. A very easy woven stitch that is a bit tricky to get the pattern down at first but it something you can do in your sleep after the second or third row. If you do about 300-350 stitch rows and just knit in the pattern back and forth you create an easy, yet interesting looking, scarf! I figured that since the rain is starting to creep into Portland for what I am told the typical fall season, I might want to prepare for keeping warm while standing at the bus stop.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Making of a Sunburst

So today.... the best thing yet! We dove into the very interesting world of artisan bread with Vienna bread shaped like a Sunburst. While I watched the teacher show us the steps to creating this amazing work of art, all I could think that there had to be a catch to making it look so good. Then I started to piece it together and before I knew it I had a bread that I was afraid to eat cause it looked so good. Because of the many different steps I decided that is would be a great time to show you, the viewer, the steps to making some good looking bread. To the left is the first step of the process in which you roll out 10 long pieces of the vienna dough that has fermented and been benched. You then take each of the pieces and start to intertwine them in the middle as you shape a type of sun, leaving one piece out to hold for later. Next, group pieces into threes and begin to braid each group while alternating and underbraiding with and overbraiding. Tuck in the end pieces of each braid. Slightly turn each braided piece to look like a type of sun. With the final piece of dough, roll it up into a spiral and place in the middle of the sun (where you will see an opening). Egg wash the whole thing and get it in the oven. You can add different toppings to the bread such as dill, large salt, or sesame seeds. After letting it bake for awhile you will get to pull a beautiful sight out of the oven. Your freshly baked, artisan bread that looks like a pro made it. So here is it. The beautiful bread that you will wow your friends with. The only problem at the moment is that I have to get the thing home. Ending up the size of a large size sheet pan makes this endeavor a bit tricky. So as we speak my sun is parked at school in the holding box, awaiting its day to arrive home. When that comes I do not know at this moment but I am bound determine to make it happen. At the end of this week I will have completed bread class and will move on to bigger and better things next week. What those things are I have no idea yet but I will fill you in when I do. Right this second, it is time to write a report on Babka (a type of Jewish bread) for a presentation I have to give on Friday. In addition to writing a paper, you have to have a tasting of the bread. This is the tricky part because it has to turn out well enough to feed it to others! But at the same time, no one in my class has tasted Babka before so I might be safe on that account. But I have faith that it will turn out, I even asked the rising dough before I left to please oh please rise for me tonight(essentially, yeast is kinda like a plant....just feed it and water it then watch it grow) so I don't have to do the whole thing over tomorrow. Cross your fingers and think happy thoughts.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Fuzzy Week

So last week went by in a blur. Mainly? Cause I caught the flu.
Our Chef (the teacher) was out sick on Monday and upon return on Tuesday passed on the illness to us. Lucky me!
So I would like to say I could remember the week in detail but with a fever every move I made was more robotic than anything.
Once Saturday came, the fever finally broke and I could actually hold down some food
but I was productive this weekend in watching over 10 episodes of Dead Like Me (I finished the series finally, it was great! I can't believe they cancelled it!) as well as 5 movies, a few episodes of Lost (I am trying to catch up) and finally a groove on my bed
where I laid all weekend in the fetal position.
So below we have a picture run down of last week, full of very fattening food!
Above we have a bread called a Pannetone. It's a traditional Christmas bread that I have to admit, I am not fond of. Before you even start you add many raisins, lemon, orange, nutmeg and almonds into dark rum and let it soak overnight. The outside of the bread looks absolutely ugly and is very tall once baked but some people can't say enough about it.
The classic Croissant. A beautiful thing.

Hot Cross Buns, you are thinking of the song right now aren't you! Yes, they actually have crosses on all of them and are pretty tasty.
Do I even need to explain the picture above? You can never have too many doughnuts, especially with cinnamon and sugar on top.
And finally a picture of what my table usually looks like at school (along with the cinnamon rolls from this week as well). A cooling rack full of bread just waiting for a hungry student. If you happen to leave the classroom with these tasty treats in view you will guarantee that you won't walk far because hungry culinary students will eat them all before you can take your next breath, or drive you nuts asking to have one.
I never see food coming our way from their classes! Some days I would give anything for a tasty burger, just to get away from all the bread.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A World Full of Beautiful Bread

Was I living in a cave? Cause I missed the memo where bread could be more than a loaf or a roll. I have never seen, let alone made, a crazy looking bread before but that day has now come and gone....ending with a beautiful leaf cut Fougasse with Gruyere cheese bread. After seeing this come out of the oven I was tickled pink, granted there are a few little things I will work on for next time....things I will not say because you may never know the difference! Luckily I made a few little cheese bread sticks to go along with the leaf and ladder (pictured behind the leaf) Fougasse's and they turned out excellent. So right now I am cramming for the big bread test tomorrow and then off to sunny Central Oregon tomorrow afternoon to see the family for the weekend where I hear it's over 100 degrees right now (yuck!). Anything over about 65 degrees and I start running for the hills. This trip home might be interesting since I have decided to take little Poppy (the hamster) with me to meet everyone. She has gotten her own travel cage with goodies to keep her occupied. Knowing her....she will probably sleep the whole time and never know she left. Finally, I would like to announce that I have picked up my knitting needles again after about 8 weeks. The schedule is finally starting to agree with me (early mornings didn't exist before school started) so the energy is slowly coming back and thus so is the urge to knit. It must be interesting to see a knitting baking school student (in full uniform) with bags of bread traveling on the bus everyday. But I like to think that I am just trying to fit in even though trust me, my little getup is nothing compared to some that I have seen!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Knots of Bread

The past few days have been consumed with bread. I actually have been having to go into school at 6 am everyday because of the extended amount of time that it takes to get the yeast rising. You just can't throw together these little knots! These were a day long process! But I am starting to find that I enjoy making bread quite a bit. The textures along with the ability to get very creative with the doughs (oh....and getting your hands very dirty!!) make me excited each morning to get the breads on their way. Now, not every bread turns out perfect (like my chibatta bread, I have barely tasted one let alone made it!) but these were awesome and very fun to make. Tomorrow....more bread including more baguettes and baking my leaf and ladder shaped breads that I can't wait to get a picture of.

Today was topped off by getting some great news, if you saw one of the previous posts we were waiting for the phone call to see if Lucy (our Lab) had cancer. Great news!!! It was a benign tumor. Thank goodness. All is right in the world for today (well, everything except my chibatta bread).

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bread Homework

So today was the beginning of the next class in my adventure to become a graduate of Western Culinary Institute. We started Baking Principals class and I will now be making 3 (yes 3) baguettes a day for the next six weeks. Not to mention various other breads each day. First you work with sugar for weeks and then get sick of sugar. Next you work with bread then get sick of bread. I am debating if I should become a vegetarian next. But knowing my luck we would then do a Carrot Cake each day for six weeks then I would stop eating altogether.

Our first written assignment today was an essay on our experience with bread.
I can hear you out there in the Internet universe laugh hysterically, but yes this was my homework.
So for your enjoyment here you go.

My Bread Background

I have to admit first of all that before coming to Western Culinary Institute I had only had two experiences with bread: the first being the biscuits that I have made in the past for my family, and the second being the consumer of bread. In no way, shape or form had I made a loaf of bread (let alone knew how to do it). But with this little experience in the world of breads I still knew that I wanted to be a baker. It would be a little bakery in my hometown of Redmond, OR that would give me that urge since I could finally reach the counter tops in our kitchen.

Gibbs Bakery was a little mom and pop bakery that was known for its amazing pastries and breads but it was also the only bakery in town besides Safeway, so everyone bought what they needed from the Gibbs Bakery. As a little girl, Saturday was the day to visit the bakery to pick up a weekly dose of a doughnut and rolls which were to go with dinner later on that evening. Seeing the people that worked there make everyone smile with the simple handing over of a maple bar, a beautifully decorated cake, or a fresh loaf of French bread in turn made me smile. How could anyone be mad after the sugary baked goodness of a pastry? So as I grew up I decided someday I would open up a bakery where I could have my own little piece of sweet heaven. A place to put smiles on people’s faces and make sure everyone walked out full. But of course, it would be in a different town since Gibbs had already staked their claim to the town of Redmond.

But as dreams go sometimes, the bakery was put on the back burner. I quickly found myself getting through high school and looking towards new adventures in the medical field. Nursing was calling my name but it soon turned out that I didn’t want to respond and thus, looked for a different path to follow. It would take quite a few large bumps in the road of life and a very supportive husband (and family) to finally get me to ask the question “What do I really want to do with my life”?

Baking a cupcake in a home kitchen and baking it in a professional bakery are two very different things but the experience for the person receiving the cupcake can be one in the same. Making people happy is one of the key reasons I decided to become a baker and if I can make the world a little better place handing out one cookie or baguette at a time then I am up to the challenge. Another reason I looked to baking was the immense creativity that is involved with each and everything you make. I have always been drawn to creative outlets, finding myself in the floral industry for many years for instance, while the normal desk job in a cubicle just doesn’t interest me in the least.

Becoming a baker overall is a way to make my life a meaningful adventure in which I took control and did the career that I had always dreamed of because I have been on the path where life was taking you down a path you didn’t want, and I won’t let it happen again. Making bread has become a favorite piece of the large puzzle of baking and I look forward to the coming weeks, expanding my knowledge and having fun in the process.


Fun wasn't it! (can you imagine me rolling my eyes)

So finally I would like to show you the pain and suffering our poor lab Lucy endured this weekend. Unfortunately, Max found a lump on her and it had to be removed. We don't yet know if it was cancer but she was forced to wear the ever fashionable dog halo to keep from licking her wound where the lump was removed (on her butt of all places, like having a lump alone isn't bad enough). Luckily the halo can't keep her from waggin' her tail, which has yet to stop since recovering from anesthesia.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Bus Ate My Work

So I got on the bus with multiple pieces of bread, ranging from bagels to more baguettes after a long day at school. But today I also had these wonderful soft breads that were filled with turkey, bacon, and cheese (as well as onion in a few). After stuffing the bread, they were then baked in the oven so everything got nice and melted inside. I walked on the bus with two bags full of these things....I walked off with two individual soft breads (think of them as a hot pocket, but way better). I felt mugged in a way! Most days I usually keep to myself and ride the bus to school in the morning and home in the afternoon, but holy cow I had people asking me over my shoulder if they could have one and before I knew it everyone around me was tasting my work.
I have to admit in a way I was a little irritated since I myself had not been able to taste one, but to hear everyone say how great they were (as well as that this bus ride was the best one they had ever had) made me happy. And of course when the bus driver herself asks to try one you have to hand one over, I do have to make it home!
But that is the true joy about baking....
it may be a job but it sure can make someone's day.
So I would love to show you a picture of these delicious little things but unfortunately they have now disappeared. After finishing one, a woman on the bus told me that I should "Quit school right now and open up a little shop just selling these things!", which I couldn't help but laugh at.
It's only week 6 of school for goodness sakes, these filled soft breads are only
the tip of the iceberg.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Baguettes and BLTs

This is a beautiful site.
Baguettes, and lots of them.
Today started our week long study of breads, before the end of Baking 102 class.
But then we get to go to another class to make, for 6 weeks, more...
Unfortunately a little kink happened in the midst of fermentation when someone decided to set off the fire alarm in the school.
So we all took off our aprons and headed down the 5 flight of stairs where upon hitting the last step was told that it was safe to go back to class.
So after rolling my eyes a few times and groaning for at least two minutes I headed back upstairs. Now this is the second time the alarm has gone off in the past 6 weeks and it always seems to be the culinary students (becoming chefs) that set it off.
I am waiting for the day I see actual flames coming out of one of those classrooms.
It's bound to happen with their track record.
So luckily the bread was still in one piece upon arriving back and after baking came the best part, making BLT's. It was one of the best sandwiches I have had in months.
Plus the fact that I made the bread kinda gives me a biased opinion but it was good!!!

The End of Cake Week

So Friday concluded cake week with cupcakes and Genoise cake.
At this point I can't wait for something besides sugar. I know that sounds weird coming from a person working towards becoming a pastry chef but at this point I haven't been eating any of the sugary goodness I have been making because my body can't handle any more sugar.

Give me a loaf of bread for goodness sakes.
Above is my own concoction called Citrus Cupcakes, yellow cupcakes made with orange and lemon peel then a butter cream frosting made with orange juice.
On top we have some candied orange pieces.

Next we have a Genoise cake (sponge cake) with mint chocolate chip flavored butter cream frosting and coated in chocolate sprinkles.
I only wish smell-a-vision was possible!
So overall it was a good week with lots of sweets and a good grade on my test!
Next week is the last week of this class before six weeks of bread class.
It's amazing how time flies when you are having fun.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cakes Galore!

So it's the second to last week in our Intro to Baking class and therefor it's cake week. At this point in the game I have become completely turned off at the sight of butter and sugar when it comes to eating it but that will never stop me from turning them into a wonderful pastry for someone else to enjoy! Luckily next week will be bread week so at least it will balance out all the sugar. Anyway, so far this week I have made a total of 3 cakes that will total 5 by the end of the week. One of which is the shiny Devils Food cake you see. I cringed when the Chef said that we would have to pipe out the words "Happy Birthday" 25 times before piping it on the cake. There is something about piping chocolate that usually makes me end up in the hallway cursing but really....I didn't have a choice at this point. So while I piped the happy birthday's (the first 12, looking the way they did, I would never admit to piping...even under oath) they seemed to get a bit easier by the end. Then the fun part, actually piping a birthday cake. This two layer devil's food cake already has genoche filling as well as a milk chocolate crumb coating and genoche glaze but hey! let's add a bit more chocolate for the heck of it! So, holding my breath the entire time I piped the birthday cake. And just to be a smart ass since there was no one with a birthday today that I could give this to I made it an UN-birthday cake! The piping finished and I could finally breathe. I looked at it and was actually kinda proud. "Holy cow! I did it! Woo Hoo!" Then just for fun I got cocky and added a flower with vines and leaves. If you are on a roll then you just have to go with it. So if I do say so myself, being that I am in week 5 of pastry school, this cake wasn't half bad. The other cake is a Genoise (sponge cake) with lemon butter cream filling, orange flavored rosettes, and candied oranges in the middle of the rosettes. It has a graham cracker edge and is three layers. I was kinda in a citrus mood when I was making this as you can tell. So this picture is all that is left of this cake. The cake was quickly consumed today by my roommate's co-workers who I have decided to make my guinea pigs for a lot of my pastries that I bring home (which seem to add up quickly and take over the fridge). Those people are wonderful and are the perfect taste testers, mainly because they love everything. So cake test tomorrow then a weekend before bread week. Hopefully somewhere in there sleep is involved because right now I am on autopilot. Off to hit the books!

An Icon and Lots of Butter

I can now add a new movie to my top ten list. Last night Western Culinary Institute had a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House where for only $10 you were served a three course meal in Bleu, the schools restaurant ($10 for dinner and I am there!).
After being served some of the most spectacular food that of course, was straight out of
Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child
we were then treated to an early showing of the movie Julie & Julia.
Before seeing the movie I only knew a little about the life of Julia Child, and only bits and pieces of the project done by Juile Powell (the other main character) but by the end of the movie I found myself having a new found respect for the woman that brought cooking to America.
Having Meryl Streep play Julia was a brillant choice, being that no one else could have done better (not to mention the voice!). And Amy Adams was adorable as usual and struck a nerve with me as Julie, being that I too will be hitting 30 way too soon as did her character.
So as I sat there laughing until I was almost crying, and sometimes seeing the exact things I had done in class just the day before, when I realized that I finally found my passion in life because anything like cooking or baking that makes you that happy is something you should do forever.
So I found myself this morning, slightly exhausted from the lack of sleep but jumping out of bed to head to class at Le Cordon Bleu exactly like Julia did in her life with excitement and anticipation, eager to bake and take on the day one slab of butter at a time.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Dead Guy Cake

So thanks to Judith, one of my friends from the awesome Redmond Stitch n' Bitchers Knit Group, I have found a new favorite blog. Cakewrecks is a somewhat disturbing site where there are mounds of pictures of the worse cakes that people have found around the world. While there are so many with serious misspellings, and some that people should be ashamed to call themselves cake decorators. But out of all of these this one was just wrong.
Yes, that is a cake of a dead man that is being served to people and yes he is supposed to be laying in a casket.
"Oh server, can I have a piece of the dead guy's nose and maybe a bite of his finger?"
Granted, this is a very unique cake but do you really want to be known as the cake decorator that made the "dead guy" cake?
There are just somethings that sound amazing as unique idea but sometimes....
keep your idea to yourself and for goodness sakes don't turn it into a cake!
Thanks Judith!!!
Check out Cake Wrecks at

Monday, August 3, 2009

Battle Wounds

Usually you would see the many photos of the pastries I have been working on but today, it's the rough side of pastry work. This past weekend while making hand tossed pizzas for my mom, dad, and hubby I received a nice burn to my arm. The oven door decided that it wasn't going to stay down while putting in a pizza to cook and sure enough, the war wound occurred. The only important thing was that the pizza turned out great. Now this fun burn is the worst of this weeks war wounds, consisting of a few burnt fingers and small cuts on my hands. Luckily I haven't hit the level that some of the people in my class have hit. Two people have already ended up in the hospital with large cuts to their hands, one of which ended up with blood all over the classroom. Yuck! And we were told about a student in the last class that either cut or burnt them self everyday of class, ending up in the hospital multiple times. Finally, there is always the possibility of loosing a finger. Like the student a few weeks ago that cut the tip of their finger off in one of the culinary arts classes. So the battle continues this week with cakes. And with each battle scar I come a bit closer to becoming a pastry chef.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Baking Up A Storm!

So this week has been a bit crazy so far, and it's only Tuesday. Right now as I type this it is 105 degrees here. I am currently located right in front of the air conditioner in the living room on the couch with ice water in one hand and a piece of my delicious Quiche Lorraine in the other (pictured to the left). It is made with cheese, bacon, and onions with a cream and pie crust. I already have my next quiche in mind with a bit more spice to make it a bit spicier. But all in all it is great. On the bus today I had to carry this, raspberry muffins, and an apple pie. Let's just say I have become very good at balancing boxes (one of my many hidden talents). Some days I am taking home so many things that I have been running out of carrying cases and have to go buy boxes down the the cafe. Today I tried to put the Raspberry muffins next to the quiche but I wouldn't suggest it. I had one muffin face first in the quiche by the time I got home. Next we have the pumpkin pie that has already been partcially consumed by my roommate and her friends, which was no problem because I have never been a big pumpkin pie fan. Just because I had to, I did taste a little bit to make sure I made it correctly (or didn't forget things like maybe the pumpkin). The pie did turn out great but it is a bit weird to make a pumpkin pie in July. I guess we could consider this Christmas in July Pie. Finally we have the Old Fashioned Apple Pie. It's kinda funny cause if you look at the pie from above the top looks like a little old woman's face all crinkled up. With tons of apples stuffed into this pie, it has been calling my name since coming out of the oven. A little warm apple pie and some vanilla pie and I might just call it a night! Or in the case of the the weather today we might just leave it as cold apple pie. So as you can tell, I have been up to my eyeballs in flour, sugar and eggs but things are turning out great. We found out we have a three day weekend this weekend so that has been speeding up the week even more. The only problem is that I might spend most of that time sleeping but at least I will get to see my kids (my cats and dogs), my hubby, and my parents. Plus I will be relaxed, you don't realize how all the people, traffic, and overall noise gets you wound up! I want a nice quiet room with a couch, a pillow, a cold drink, and a TV. That sounds pretty good right about now!

Camping on the Oregon Coast

So Max, myself, and Lucy (the Lab) went for a camping trip this past weekend at Beverly Beach just outside of Newport. The whole time is was overcast and around 50-60 degrees....just perfect! I actually had to buy a jacket because it got so cold overnight.Granted, I am not thrilled when it comes to tent camping but it is a cheap way to enjoy a weekend on the beach. We took a trip to Lincoln City to hit the factory outlet stores, and my favorite place Depot Bay (pictured at the top) to pick up salt water taffy and look for whales. But no matter what you do at the coast you always have to make sure to stop by the bayfront in Newport to see the sea lions relaxing on the docks.

So we all had a blast, but unfortunately Lucy killed her first mouse.
A mouse that first attacked Max on his leg so Lucy quickly went after it. Lucy was pretty proud while I could help but cringe as Max buried it.
All in all it was a great weekend!! Thanks hubby for the trip!