Gothic Wedding Cake

Friday, March 25, 2011

Our final for Advanced Pastry was a three or four tier wedding cake. The first week we worked on learning to make flowers for the cake. Then we had one more week of prep and this week was the week to put it all together. I, of course, didn't want to do the same thing everyone else was doing. I just always want to be different. I don't like "competing" by definition. I don't want to be "better" than anyone else, I just want to be different. It's funny. As children and teenagers, the worst thing in the world is to be different. As adults, at least in my case, I have learned to embrace uniqueness. It's what sets me apart. It is what makes people go, "Wow!" I like doing things people don't expect. I like thinking "outside of the box."

With that in mind, I didn't want to do a classic white wedding cake. I had seen a photo of a gothic cake that was my base inspiration. Of course, mine ended up not being very similar at all as it evolved, but this cake was the one that I looked at originally and got the wheels turning.

When I was at work at Doing Dishes Pottery Studio, a photo cube caught my eye.

People paint the cube, then we glue the metal photo holder into the top once it is fired. My brain started churning. "What if I just used the metal part as the cake topper." I began to sketch a plan for my cake. This was the original sketch.

I went on to think as I got more and more into it, "What if I mold something around the topper to look like a tree??" The cake continued to evolve. I love how this happens. My mind just churns and churns and eventually something wonderful comes out of it. I make lists upon lists. I edit, cross out, and crumple up sketches and notes. I plan like crazy. It usually works and this was no exception.

Thomas Hill from Marion Crane and Digital Kill Productions, and incidentally my husband's best friend, came through for us and willingly went with us to take our photos in a Gothic Wedding Photo Shoot for the photos on the top of the cake. Jaime Yeoman also helped out with the makeup and the actual shoot and the cake wouldn't have been the same without them!!!

Wednesday I put the whole cake together. First I put the cake topper on the cake and added the "roots" of the tree. To make the topper I used a mixture of modeling paste and modeling chocolate kneaded together with black food coloring powder. It took several tries to come up with the right ratio, but once I did, I was able to keep making small amounts as I needed it to make the flowers, leaves, and trees. Then I piped the wrought iron fence on the bottom tier with black royal icing and the web on the top tier, and piped a simple border on all tiers. I added the second tree and the leaves, spiders, and flowers. I finished up adding accents of luster dust here and there, and finally added the photos to the tree.

I was so extremely happy with how the cake turned out that I was thrilled when I learned that one of the guys from the photography department at the Art Institute volunteered to take professional photos of all the cakes.

*If you click on the photos, they will come up larger so you can see more detail.

These are the other photos that were on the top of the cake. Some of them were edited to be black and white with only the purple remaining.

I love that these say Husband and Wife:

And just for fun, here are additional photos from the shoot that didn't make it onto the cake.

Here is Marc rear naked choking one of the headstones. He's in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Classical- Week 9

Sunday, March 13, 2011

This week in Classical, I made Blini's. You may recall that I made these in Garde Manger last quarter. Two of my photos from that class were chosen to be displayed this whole quarter downstairs at the school in the main display case. I actually really enjoy the Classic Caviar presentation because Chef Thompson had told us that it is supposed to be intricate. This time I really paid attention to knife cuts. I wanted to make a whole new presentation and not do the same thing I did the last time. I LOVE how it came out.

Next week we are doing quite a few pastry items, which I am very excited about! Can't wait to make some scones, but the Apple Charlotte with custard sauce sounds divine!

Asian- Week 9

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

We had a ton of recipes to cook this week, but I ended up having a ton of fun. I really enjoyed the exercise of creating our own “fusion” dishes. I made Twigum Mandu into meatballs and served them with the Mung Bean Noodles and Crispy Seaweed. I thought the meatballs came out with a delicious flavor! I would POSSIBLY add a little more rice or some breadcrumbs as an additional binder because they were hard to keep together in the pan when I was sautéing them, but I’m not sure, because I liked the lightness that they had. I would have to try it and see which way I liked better.

I liked the flavor and texture of the Mung Bean Noodle dish, too. I thought it was a little sweet, but that seemed to be the trend in much of the Korean dishes. I hadn’t had the Mung Bean Noodles before, and I enjoyed the slight texture difference from regular noodles. I would add more veggies if I was making this at home, but other than that, I was happy with it!

The Crispy Seaweed, however, was a different story. It never toasted up enough, which is probably because of my lackadaisical application of the sesame oil…and my fear of the fire. I just hate getting near fire. I just do!!! I don’t know what to do about it, and I think I’ve come a long way, but I’m just not fully over it yet. I think I COULD like this if it was done right, but I obviously am not the person to do it right. Yet.

I liked the way I plated all my items together and I think the flavors complimented each other nicely. The actual cooking was interesting because of all the blanching and steaming that went on. I tried to compile a list of what I needed to do in my dishes so I could get all the blanching done in one swoop and save some time. There just was such a huge rush over to the stoves at one point that there wasn’t really enough room for everyone and all their pots and dishes. It was extremely frustrating.

I also made the Yak Sik and shaped it into balls to plate. The flavor was ok with this, but the texture wasn’t very appealing to me. The glutinous rice was just kind of gummy. It was ok when it was first done but as it cooled, it kind of gelled up a little and I didn’t find that appealing. I also didn’t care much for the dates. I think it was the date flavor that was throwing me off. Maybe it was the seasonings that were folded in. Either way, this was not a winning dish, in my opinion.

Overall, I really liked Korea! I enjoyed learning more about the people and the country during class from someone who had actually lived there for awhile. Once all these classes are over, I would like to leisurely study some of these cultures again.

Classical- week 8

I’m usually not a procrastinator. This week, though, I have been putting off writing this entry for as long as possible. I am not proud of the food I put up last week, so I haven’t been wanting to share it or write about it. I had an incredibly off week last week. I think it was due to me being stressed about the pastillage piece I was going to be putting together in the class after Classical.

I know it isn’t anyone else’s problem, but I have huge anxiety issues that tend to manifest themselves in other areas that are not directly related to what I am actually having anxiety about. I woke up feeling extremely anxious and panicky. As my morning routine progressed, so did my stress level. By the time I climbed in the car, I was in a nearly full on panic. I decided it was time to take one of those little pills the doctor prescribed me. That’s what they are there for, right? When I pulled into the school parking lot, I popped a xanax and hoped for the best.

The feeling I get when on xanax is hard for me to describe. Everything just get’s suppressed. I’m not anxious anymore, just kind of withdrawn and mopey. That’s how I feel, anyways. I feel like my feet get very heavy and I feel like I am moving very slowly in everything I do. I feel like my body gets kind of heavy and it goes all the way to my facial expressions. I skulked around the kitchen and tried to get my dishes done. Again. I’m not proud of the food I put up.

I made pears with a poppy seed cream, spaetzle, and I attempted the braised red cabbage. Let’s start with the worst. The braised red cabbage ended up burning. I just wasn’t checking on it often enough. That’s really all there is to say about it. I should have kept a better eye on it. The spaetzle came out decent enough but when I went to sauté it, I didn’t heat up the pan well enough first so it never really caramelized and got the texture it was supposed to have.

The pears and cream tasted good, but looked like poo. I had a picture of what I wanted it to look like, but the pear was too heavy and squished the cream. This was my THIRD plating of this dish. Eventually I just left it alone because I wasn’t improving on it at all. The flavors were there, but the plate looked like crap. I enjoyed the aromas of this dish, too.

Somehow our team managed to pull out a win again, but it was not due to any of my work at all. I’m very disappointed in my performance last week and hope this week is greatly improved. I am working with my therapist on how to better cope with stress and anxiety.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Our latest project in Advanced Pastry was a Pastillage Showpiece. We were given certain criteria we had to meet but other than that, it was up to us what we wanted to do. We had to include a swoop, 2 10" circles for a base with something in between them to give them height, and a certain number of butterflies, flowers, and leaves, and "curls". I decided I wanted to make a piece that included an Amy Brown-like fairy.

We made the pastillage last week and made some initial pieces. Once we made the pastillage and I started working with it, I got a better feel for what I could and could not do with it. This made me change my original sketch. I wanted to make a sphere originally, but after working with the pastillage, I decided to change that plan. I went through several design sketches and had several plans "just in case." I made WAY more pieces than I needed, just to be safe.

I wasn't satisfied with all the pieces I made in class last week, so I went in Monday morning and made the box and more flowers. Wednesday we painted and put our pieces together. I was beyond stressed about this piece but I am SO thrilled with how it turned out. I love how I was able to give the fairy a second set of wings and I am loving painting on my pieces. Now that I've worked with it successfully, I feel that pastillage is something I can add to my repertoire.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

In Asian this week, we cooked food from Korea. I made Pork Wontons and Seasoned Mushrooms. We made half the wontons with pre-made wrappers and half with dough we made ourselves. Patrick helped assemble the triangle ones (he demands credit! haha) and I assembled the round ones. The home made dough was definitely chewier than those made with the bought wrappers. I think if a.) the dough had more time to sit and b.) I had used the pasta machine to roll them out, the dough wouldn't have been quite so chewy. The flavors were delicious, though. It had an egg, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic mixed with the ground pork. Then they are placed in the wrappers and fried. It is served with a seasoned soy sauce mixture.

The mushrooms were very, VERY easy. I totally forgot about trimming the very ends off the mushrooms, though, so some of them were a little chewy. But once they were cut in small strips, they were sauteed with garlic and sesame oil and tossed with a little soy sauce. Easy peasy.

I love, love, LOVED the Ribs that Jimmy made. Literally, at the end of class, there was ONE bowl of food left on the table. Everything else was completely devoured. The ribs were cute very thin and scored before being marinated and grilled. Then they are cut into small pieces and dipped in the seasoned soy sauce. Absolutely phenomenal.

I HIGHLY enjoyed the flavors this week. I think I just love ginger, garlic, soy, and sesame with just about anything. I need to start utilizing these flavors more at home.

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