November 23, 2011

I'm Back!!!

So, I'm back from the USA!! :) What can I say? It was an experience both of good and bad. Being away made me realise just how much I missed home and all the little things we take for granted. Cliche, I know, but too true.

In summary, I left home wanting to take on the world, travel and learn as much as I could in the 6 months I was in school. I wouldnt actually say that I did take on the world but I sure coped a beating from it.

I was admitted to hospital twice, lost $4k due to the Hilton having the worst security ever (which they of course did not take responsiblity for), lost my passport, flew home for a funeral and back again which in turn stuffed up my visa, had issues selling my car because the dealer had been shady and there was a typo regarding the amount of mileage on the title and most recently, the new Kitchen Aid that I had bought and blinged up "popped" which lead me to finding out that we cant use USA bought kitchen aids in Australia because the US are one of the only ones in the world that runs on 110V and 60Hz...... anyyways! Thank goodness this year is almost over and thank God I've made it home in one piece.

Having said all these downers there have been good times! I was fortunate enough to go to the Bahamas, travelled around pretty much the whole of the East Coast of USA and I ticked off what I wanted to do most, which was learn to bake professionally. It feels almost weird being back and not being in a 'commercial' kitchen everyday. I have also been lucky enough to meet some amazing people whilst I've been away and formed friendships that will hopefully last a lifetime :)

So what have I been doing since I've been back? Why, baking of course!! :) I realised that alot of the things we learnt in school needed to be refreshed, especially since I was replicating the recipes in my home kitchen. My first proper project was the Croquembouche Wedding Cake.

Croquembouche wedding cake-13

Croquembouche wedding cake-15

The swirl decorations are made out of pastillage, which is a sugar dough that dries really hard. I had the recipe for it but as it was only demonstrated to us in school and I came across a premix for it, I decided, 'why make life hard for myself?' and went with the premix. The premix is from a company called Cake Art. It comes as a powder form and you need only add water. It was really really sticky at first so I added some more of the powder, then after letting it sit for a few minutes you were able to knead it until it was elastic. It was still a really soft dough. The pastillage when demonstrated at school pretty much dried up instantly but this premix stuff takes a while to dry, you need to let it sit overnight or even a few days depending on its thickness.

Croquembouche wedding cake-11

Croquembouche wedding cake-6

The roses and small blossoms were made out of gumpaste. I used the brand Satin Ice. The gum in the gum paste allows it more flexiblity and stretchablity so that you can roll out the dough very thin without it ripping, therefore creating more life like flowers.

Croquembouche wedding cake-8

Croquembouche wedding cake-5

I've always had problems with using sugar and ever since I took sugar class at school my confidence was boosted with being able to blow and pull sugar. HOWEVER! Alas my old enemy is back! I had the same problem of the sugar melting on my croquembouche. I dont know if its because of the blasted few days of torrential rain we've been having lately that has saturated the atmosphere with moisture or that my method of cooking sugar is incorrect? I even used the sugar casting recipe that Chef Notter uses for his show pieces for the sugar on the pate a choux but it still melts!! If anyone out there knows the solution to my problem PLEASE! email me I would love to hear from you!

Croquembouche wedding cake-12


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